Of course, you have the answer at your fingertips: social media to the rescue! There are tons of social networking sites you can use to stay lightly connected. I’ll just highlight a few favorites here.
- Facebook - It’s tempting to spend your summer purging your Facebook friends list. How many times have you seen some message about how “lucky” you are because some random someone has purged her Facebook account and is now down to a tiny circle of friends and you made the cut. Give it 3 or 4 years and she’ll be creeping your account to add back those friends that she thought she could live without. She may not even want to talk to them. But it’s nice to be able to see how someone is doing if you start to feel nostalgic.
- LinkedIn – This is a bit of an old people form of social media. But consider this; as a graduate, you're taking those first baby steps into the adult (i.e., old people) realm. LinkedIn can come in handy as you build a professional reputation. It also lets you peruse the resume’ of each of your friends. You can see how your resume' stacks up, if you might need to strengthen your resume’ in specific areas, how you might be able to give your old friend a hand up in the business world if you’re already on a good career path, and where your friends have headed for more schooling. LinkedIn also has a job search component; so, who knows, maybe you’ll find a cool job on this website. Also, there's a new networking site out there called firstjob.com. It’s supposed to be like LinkedIn but catering to a younger crowd. Check it out and see what you think.
- Academia.edu – If you’re graduating from a graduate program and hoping to continue writing journal articles you need an academic peer group. You’ll be amazed at how many of your fellow students will never collaborate with you again. Try this website. It’s newer but might be just what you need.
- Bebo.com – If you’re friends with a lot of international students, this may be a network you want to join. It’s very popular in Europe and is touted as one of the world’s most popular networks. Unfortunately, this company is currently embroiled in a legal battle with their minor shareholders and filed for bankruptcy in February 2013 so there’s no telling if they’ll stick around. We'll have to wait and see.
- Pinterest.com – Not officially a social networking site, this is one fun place to spend some time. You pin pictures of stuff you like. BUT behind those pictures can be articles, recipes, and other cool stuff. You can follow people or even just follow a specific board a person has created. This would be a fun way to keep up with some of your school friends.
A few more tips:
- Add some of your favorite teachers to your sites. Teachers can be friends with you now that you aren't a student. These friendships allow them to keep track of you and come in handy when you need a reference for a job or graduate school.
- If you're traveling to a different state, filter your friends and find the ones who are living in your destination location. Contact them and ask if you could crash at their place for a few days. It gives you a chance to reconnect and may save you some money! Be sure you take them a gift to say thank you and, if they’re ever in town, reciprocate the kindness.
- When you decide to get married you may want to invite a few school friends to the wedding. Social media gives you the chance to find them quickly to collect addresses.
- Don’t forget StumbleUpon, Flickr, or Tumblr. They’re more blog than social networking but are still very fun.
- Don’t add people you don’t know. It really is just a bad idea on several levels.