Social media influences people's lives more than it ever has, but even more than giving users access to friends and strangers around the globe, it might have the ability to make or break students' careers.

Carolyn Massiah, a professor in the College of Business Administration's Marketing department, said she thinks social media is extremely important, not only for professionals but for everybody.

"Across all professions, I think the use of a social network is imperative," Massiah said.

Massiah said she knows of many students, particularly in the business industry, who have lost job offers because of what recruiters found on their Facebook profiles. She recommends that students check their privacy settings and really monitor what goes up online.

"I've know instances where students have gotten all the way through three [or] four job interviews and then been turned down because more and more you have companies who have a specific person who all they do is troll the Internet looking for your social media presence. They [would] rather find out [about] your issues before they hire you," Massiah said.

Messiah also had some tips and tricks to make sure your Facebook account is as professional — and as hidden — as possible during a job search.

"During your job search time, change your name on your Facebook profile … Also, during the job search time block your Facebook so that only you can post on your Facebook," Massiah said. "Because no matter how much you spread the word, 'Hey everyone I'm looking for a job, I'm looking for a job,' you always have that one special friend that just doesn't get it. So during that time period, block anyone from posting on your Facebook."

No matter how private students think their Facebooks are, Massiah advises students to always manage what they put online.

"Whatever you're putting on social media, that's your brand," Massiah said.

She said that sometimes students are unaware of how powerful of a tool social media, particularly Linkedln, really is.

"I know just in the last month of five students who have gotten either internships or jobs because of their LinkedIn profiles," Massiah said.

Emre Gumuluoglu, a junior majoring in business management, economics and political science, agrees with professor Massiah on how powerful social media is, and focuses great attention to what goes on all of his social media platforms.

"Social media, in my view point, is one of the most critical things anyone can have," Gumuluoglu said. "A resume is just a [piece of] paper, but your social media [account] is how people can see you. Because it fills up the gaps."

Gumuluoglu said he is very strict when it comes to social media and has a rule his friends know of: If they don't send him the picture he's going to be tagged in before they do it, he removes them from his Facebook friends.

"I would go out of my way to make sure I'm in no pictures, because it can essentially make or break your career," he said.

Gumuluoglu said he has received many job offers through his Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. For him, social networking is a professional route and he advises students, specifically in the art field, to use social networking as a marketing tool.

"Use your social media as a platform to present your art. Art is expression, so use social media as a way to express yourself," he said.

While Gumuluoglu sees social media as a professional tool, Garrett Nickell, a junior business major, sees social media, specifically Facebook as a platform to communicate with friends and have the freedom to express your personal beliefs.

"Any time you call somebody for customer service all you're going to get is an automated voicemail. I think it's necessary to show people that you are also a person and not just a computer. I think that's when people might trust you a little bit more," Nickell said.

Whether students are using social media to express themselves or build their brands, the power that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites have over students' personal and professional lives is readily apparent.

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