By Amari D. Pollard
Since entering college I have been forced to step back and take a good look at myself—personally and professionally. Who am I? What are my strengths? What do I want to be known for? So much of college is cultivating yourself, and to many, that means figuring out your brand.
Almost every career development lecture I have attended has a section emphasizing, “branding yourself”. And every time I hear the suggestion my reaction never changes: Am I a product?
I understand the concept of branding yourself. You’re telling people what you are best at. And regardless of what that is, you need to take the time to build a resume behind that. If you’re an actress you should participating in theatre on campus, if you’re a writer you should be writing for the school newspaper or literary journal, if you’re premed you should work at a hospital, doing things that prove you have a knack for something. Sometimes branding yourself doesn’t necessarily even mean you have to be great at something in particular, all you have to do is foster a persona around yourself that makes people think you are—as long as you remain personable and confident.
However, using the term branding when it comes to people has a way of steadily stripping away the things that make you human; until you are nothing but another product on the shelves of a grocery store, trying to convince shoppers they need to buy you because of your package (although there may be potential lies hiding beneath your marketing strategy).
And people wonder why it is so easy for companies to replace us with machines, it’s because honestly to a certain extent we don’t view ourselves as fully human—by using the aforementioned language we acknowledge the fact that we are products of commerce. So if there is another machine that can do something more efficiently and economically than we can, why not make a substitution.
The problem with society is that our main motto is: What can you do for me? It’s all about how far people can take you, and it begins to make you wonder what is really genuine in this world.
Personally, I don’t want to be an enticing cereal box to some hungry individual. I just want to be a person trying to further her education and career by being herself and not a product that someone wants to use. And yes, I know that’s not really possible in the world we live in, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try.
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