Being a person who lives and breathes for being online, it's puzzling to me when a patron stops by the Reference Desk and says, "I am applying for a job and the employer wants me to email them, but I don't have email so would you look up the phone number and I'll try calling?" If you are job hunting in today's competitive market, one thing is absolutely certain: you need a personal email account. It demonstrates that you are tech-savvy and in touch with the times. Also, some employers simply do not welcome phone calls about job openings. Even if you're not a job seeker, email is essential for tasks like: travel arrangements, banking, purchasing tickets for entertainment venues, or making any kind of online purchase at all.
It takes minutes to set up a free email account that you can access from any computer that has an Internet connection - so if you can read this blog, you can set up an email account and get your messages. You do not need: a home computer, money, a credit card or a tremendous loss of personal privacy.
How do you do it? Two popular, reliable services are Yahoo! Mail and Gmail, which comes from Google.com.
Click here to sign up for free Yahoo! Mail
Click here to sign up for free Gmail
Just follow the instructions on the sign up screens. You will need to answer basic questions about yourself, although Yahoo requires more personal information than Google. You will need to choose a screen name for yourself - it can be your own name, a nickname, or something fun - keep in mind, however, that if you need this email account to apply for jobs, it's NOT a good idea to pick "JoeSixPack@yahoo.com" Also, you may choose a name you really like, and Yahoo or Google will tell you the name is already taken. Finally, keep your email name as short as possible - it will be easier to remember and people will be less likely to misspell it.
Choose your password carefully, and if you are forgetful, write it down in a safe place. Don't pick anything really obvious or use very personal information (such as your social security number or address) as your password. You may be asked to supply answers to "Security Questions." These are questions that will be asked if you should you lose your password. You'll need to type in the correct answer before Yahoo or Google will allow you to create a new password.
Once your account has been created, you'll be taken to the "In Box" for your email account. From there you can "Compose" new messages, check for incoming messages, delete old items into the "Trash," and learn more about email features. If you will be using your email account on shared computers, such as those in the Library, YOU MUST CLICK "SIGN OUT" when you are finished, or your private email could be read by someone else.
When you are ready to come back on another day to check your email, go to Yahoo.com and look for the "Sign In" link above the Mailbox graphic, or go to Google.com and click on "Sign In," then the Gmail link. That's all there is to it.
As DPPL's Web Services Librarian, I am the most enthusiastic cheerleader for technology that you will ever find - but this isn't just another fad or a mindless annoyance. Email is a necessity in today's highly connected world. If you don't have an email account, sign up for a free one today and see what you've been missing. If you'd like personal assistance with creating your account, I encourage you to attend one of our free "Drop-In Email/Internet Assistance" sessions. Find them on the schedule here.