JoAnn Smith represents herself on Facebook as every mother’s dream; a honor student active in sports and music who never posts items considered inappropriate on social media.
Jazzy Jones, on the other hand, is a wild-eyed teenager whose “hobbies” on Facebook include cyberbullying, partying and sharing items that are not considered by many to be appropriate for her age group.
Which one would you hire?
That was the question posed by Deb Beasley, new media specialist for Mid America Motorworks in Effingham. JoAnn and Jazzy are not real people, but Beasley invented “profiles” to show students attending the 20th annual Future Fair what the consequences of Facebook posts might be later in life.
Beasley was one of more than 100 presenters at the fair, which was held Thursday at the Effingham Knights of Columbus Building. She said companies don’t only establish social media sites to build their business, but they use Facebook postings of prospective employees as tools in determining who to hire.
“I’m here telling kids that businesses use social media as a decision tool for future employees,” Beasley said. “I want to encourage young people to be careful about what they post, because it never really goes away.”
Beasley said an impromptu survey she conducted during the fair shows the ubiquitousness of Facebook in the lives of modern teens.
“The kids laugh about my presentation, but every student I have talked to has a Facebook page,” she said.
On the bright side, Beasley said, parents can use Facebook as a way to check up on what their children are doing.
Altamont High School sophomore Austin Davis said he gets the message.
“She (Beasley) was showing the difference between right and wrong,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of wrong things on Facebook.”
Austin’s dad Aaron Myers hopes Austin learned something Thursday.
“Employers use Facebook to see what kind of stuff you’ve been putting out there,” Myers said.
Corporate pilot David Paul, who flies corporate jets for Heartland Dental Care, said he was glad to participate in Thursday’s event.
“This gives high school kids some knowledge about what career path they want to choose,” Paul said. “It’s good to have something like this.”
Some students, like Altamont senior Ally Wendling, have been coming to this event every year they’ve been in high school. This year, Ally brought younger sister Andy and cousin Kendra Wendling to the event.
“This has helped me get a better knowledge of what I want to do,” Ally said. “You can see all the options within a particular field.”
Ally said she has used events like Future Fair to help her decide her own career path.
“I want to go into elementary education,” she said, adding that she is considering further study at either Eastern Illinois University or Concordia University in the Chicago suburb of River Forest.
The event was sponsored by a number of local businesses and organizations, including the Greater Effingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bonutti Clinic, City of Effingham, Consolidated Communications, Effingham County Farm Bureau, Effingham Daily News, Effingham Noon Rotary, Effingham Sunrise Rotary, Lake Land College and Stevens Industries.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.