Grad students learn about professional online personal branding

March 02, 2022

Don't let the backpack and flexible schedule fool you: when you are a graduate student, you are a professional! Whether you plan to continue your career in academia or pursue work in industry, curating an online presence while still in your program is a great way to establish your professional profile. 

Dr. Maite Taboada (Professor and researcher in the SFU Department of Linguistics) offered a workshop this semester to our graduate student cohort to discuss personal branding with an emphasis on online self-promotion.

Although some people are not interested in having an online presence, having one is useful for both research-oriented and industry-oriented students.  

Your interest in research or industry will influence the manner in which you share information, and the content of that information. In a striking example, Dr. Taboada highlighted this point by showing the difference between an academic CV and a resume: the former was over 20 pages in length, whereas the latter was only 2 pages. There are simply different sorts of information that must be highlighted, depending on the audience. Similarly, different sites are geared towards these different audiences: LinkedIn, for example, is highly appropriate for professional networking, whereas is more purely focused on sharing research. 

Research-focused students have the chance to create and join existing academic communities, where cutting edge work is often shared, and where one can access new research without waiting for those articles to go through the lengthy journal-review process (it’s not uncommon for an article to take months—even years—to get published after it has been submitted to a journal). Being plugged into the academic community gives one access to unpublished manuscripts, nearly-completed article drafts, and so on.  

Industry-oriented students have the chance to highlight their skills and interests to potential employers and other important networks. Putting this information out there allows for employers to look you up and offer exciting opportunities.  

Here are some highlights from Dr. Taboada's presentation, to guide you on your journey of crafting an online presence:  

  • Control what people see: you will get searched up on the web. Take control of what people will see by curating an online presence.   
  • Create your own website or use existing sites to post your credentials, research areas, and publications. 
  • Make use of existing sites.  
  • Research oriented students: consider sites like Google Scholar, ResearchGate, ORCID,, as places to highlight your research interests, accomplishments, and so on.  
  • Industry oriented students: cultivate a LinkedIn profile, a site geared towards establishing and maintaining professional networks 
  • Consider your social media presence - as a burgeoning professional, how personal do you want your social media feeds to be? Do you want to blend your personal and professional life?  
  • Generally speaking, Twitter is most often used by academics to share that which is professional, while Instagram is mostly personal/friend/family use. 
  • Facebook seems to be used primarily for groups relating to professional associations for instance. 
  • TikTok - anything goes! Some academics are making interesting and valuable videos, do you want to contribute to this movement?  
  • Learn from others – look at Linguists with great sites:   

Gretchen McCulloch

Kirby Conrod

Pocholo Umbal (former SFU LING MA!) 

Jennifer Hinnell

  • Follow @SFU, @SFUResearch, @SFULinguistics, on social media, 

Although there are many tips for creating an online presence, one of the most important is an investment of time. 

Whatever you choose to do with your online presence, commit to it. Regular posts and updates ensure that potential viewers have access to the most accurate information. Interact with others where you post. The more you interact with other researchers or potential employers, the more your personal brand gets out there, which ultimately leads to more opportunities. 

Cultivating your online presence is an investment in your career.  

You can find Dr. Taboada on the web, on Twitter @maite_taboada, on, and on Google Scholar.