'I'm Shmacked': Is Partying Online Hurting Job Prospects?

ABC News
'I'm Shmacked': Is Partying Online Hurting Job Prospects?
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'I'm Shmacked': Is Partying Online Hurting Job Prospects? (ABC News)

"J," age 21, had a blast during that epic night in college when he hosted a video showing him and his friends partying hard and smoking marijuana. It was posted on YouTube, something he laughed off at first. Later he said he had some regrets.

"I do care about my future," he said. "College isn't forever... [but] I never knew it would be so huge. I never thought it would catch on like that."

He is now a senior at Temple University and left wondering if that online video would ruin his career before it began.

The guy who filmed it all is a college-aged student too and "J's" longtime friend, Jeffrey Ray. Known to his friends as "Yofray," Ray has been touring the nation's campuses shooting wild college parties and unruly tailgates and then putting them on YouTube. It's a series he dubbed "I'm Shmacked," and his videos get hundreds of thousands of hits. Collectively, the series has had more than 7 million views on YouTube.

"Everyone loves them," Ray said. "From adults looking in it just looks like a bunch of riff-raff."

Ray, who has filmed at several big campuses including West Virginia University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, claims he has had students tell him that because of his videos, they work harder to get good grades in high school to get accepted to the schools he features.

"I'm Shmacked" has grown so much it has established a brand, selling T-shirts and merchandise, with hopes to turn it all into a movie and possibly a book.

This college-gone-wild brand of sorts is exploding at a time when too much digital candor has proven to backfire -- and backfire often.

There have been the high-profile cases of General David Petraeus and Rep. Anthony Weiner. There was also a case last month of a 19-year-old woman who admitted on YouTube to robbing a bank, flashing cash in front of the camera as she spoke. Police caught up with her and arrested her shortly after. She is currently awaiting trial and has not entered a plea.

As young people are putting more of their lives online, companies and other potential employers are looking for it.

A recent CareerBuilder.com survey found that two out of five companies -- 37 percent -- comb through potential employees' social networks to see what they have been up to when they apply for a job.

READ: 7 Tips to Prevent Social Media From Ruining Your Career

Mark Bourne, the vice president and co-founder of Know It All Intelligence Group in Bensalem, Pa., which runs background checks on job applicants for other companies, said that the digital dirt they dig up could cost applicants the job. He said students especially, even high school students looking to get into college, need to be aware of how they present themselves online.

"[Employers] are looking to see how the applicant portrays themselves online, whether they are professional online, whether or not they are going to be a good fit for the company, and along the way, if there happens to be dirt, and then they will want to know," Bourne said.

He said he believes that many students don't understand the risks involved in posting videos of themselves partying on YouTube or posting photos of themselves drinking or doing drugs on Facebook.

"They haven't seen the repercussions yet of the missed job position or the missed entry into a college because of what they post online," Bourne said.

He points to various examples his company found of people who had been passed over for jobs because of their online postings. One guy who posted a photo of himself passed out near a case of beer. Another posted about his drug sale and another made a menacing pose in a photo. Bourne said all three job applicants were rejected.

But Ray and his business partner Arya said alcohol-fueled gatherings are their bread and butter. Ray said he didn't think that exposing these students' antics in their YouTube videos would cause them trouble later.

"Of course they are online, they are in a video, they should know that," he said. "But it's a very slight chance that a specific employer would see them and judge them on a video of 'I'm Shmacked.'"

The duo expressed disbelief that potential employers would even care what is in the 'I'm Shmacked' videos.

"At this point, if they don't think we're drinking in college, that's a bit naïve," Arya said.

They also pointed out, and Bourne agreed, that while Facebook photos are tagged with names, making them easy to be discovered, there is no name-tagging in a YouTube video, so there is less risk that an employer will recognize someone.

"The people that I've seen in those 'I'm Shmacked' videos are hard to be identified unless their actual names are in there or they're tagged to their personal Facebook page," Bourne said.

On a stroll down frat row at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, several students who heard that 'Im Shmacked' was on campus said they were avoiding being caught partying on camera because it was "embarrassing."

"I wouldn't go on that video," one student said. "I wouldn't want future employers to see me out doing anything on that video, absolutely not."

Another student compared it to "Girls Gone Wild." Others thought the series was "awesome."

Now, partly because of "J's" discomfort with his video, Ray said he now edits out any images that could be construed as illegal, such as smoking marijuana. He said he also removes specific shots of people who ask him to.

But the "J" video has been out there so long now -- it was posted in 2010 and made when he was a freshman -- that both men agreed if there was harm to be done, it's been done already.

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