Even if you’re secure in your job and have no plans of changing, don’t underestimate the importance of professional communication beyond the email account your job provides. It makes sense to build your own personal brand and maintain your privacy no matter who you work for. If you own your own business, you may also want to set up a free webmail account for your personal use if you prefer more privacy—just in case your business emails are ever revealed through legal proceedings. Work email is almost always the property of the business, so create an account where you can present yourself professionally and a have a higher expectation of privacy.
If you currently use email provided by your home Internet service provider, and already have a work account, you can still benefit from setting up an email account on a domain purchased for professional use. Instead of using tracey@myhomeISP.com I could set up an email on my name-as-domain, for example firstname.lastname@example.org.
If purchasing a domain is not right for your situation, you still can and should avoid using the email account you get from your home Internet service provider as your professional account. Set up a free web-based email account (like Gmail, here are some reasons why) in some version of your own name if possible, and then use it professionally in addition to your existing work email. You can forward your web-based email to an account you already pick up with your desktop client (like Outlook, Entourage, Thunderbird, etc.).
If you will only have one account, you can configure most desktop email clients to pick it up using POP or IMAP protocols, then you can deal with email whether you’re on or offline. We suggest choosing a web-based email system like Gmail—one that provides you with lots of storage where you can leave your emails on their server as a backup. You also can access your webmail account from any computer (always take precautions to protect your privacy on unknown or unsecured networks and machines).
What other steps do you take to preserve your personal identity and develop a stronger professional web presence?