Too many students are under the impression that Linkedin is only for adults with jobs who are already well established in the workforce, but this is a simple misconception. One of the best resources Linkedin provides is personally tailored job listings that reflect your career interests, so this is basically a haven for aspiring professionals. To make this simple: if you are a college student who is beginning to put together a resumé and think about internships, you should create a Linkedin profile.
One reason you may feel silly getting on Linkedin at this stage in your life could be that you haven’t yet held a role that you feel is impressive enough to list on this professional network. First off, don’t worry because the fact that you are even thinking about creating this profile means you are searching for good opportunities that will give you an impressive title soon. But in the meantime, really think about everything you’ve done. You may not have held an internship or full-time job yet, but have you held any strong leadership positions? Perhaps you’re a delegate in your university’s student government or a reporter for the student newspaper. Although many roles may seem ordinary to you, you’d be surprised at how many of them may appear quite credible. At the very least, you can make your headline something along the lines of “Student at ______ University.” That is an extremely common and acceptable way to begin your Linkedin journey.
After you’ve decided on a headline, it is very important that you give great attention to the remaining sections of your profile. Filling these out to reflect your best career potential is what will help push you ahead in the online networking world, rather than leaving your name to float aimlessly throughout cyber-space. Make sure that as few areas as possible are left blank, if any.
Let’s look at the parts you can easily fill in – education, for one. You can list your high school if you like, but it’s not totally necessary since it’s typically implied you’re a high school graduate when you display that you are in college. As you go on in the professional world, you’ll notice how much less and less important it becomes to address anything related to high school. This goes hand in hand with the way you continue to fill out your profile. Focus as much as you can on accomplishments you have made throughout college, rather than honors you received in high school – unless they are particularly big and impressive. But for the most part, play up what you have achieved recently, what organizations you are currently associated with, and certainly what you are studying as well as your anticipated graduation date. Note the degree you are going for also. Showing you have a clear plan and solid goals will allow you to be taken a lot more seriously and appear very respectable.
Especially if you don’t have that much material for your listings of past positions and their descriptions, then the Summary and Specialties sections are really your places to shine. Present your elevator speech (if you don’t have one, now is the time to make one) in a mature and confident manner. This is basically where you can highlight what you’re good at and why it would be well-applied to a professional opportunity. Use this space to tell people that although you don’t currently hold some big-time professional role, you’re incredibly talented and should.
After you have completed this perfectly polished representation of your professional self, the last steps are making connections and joining groups. These are the exact ways to get your networking started and ensure you are utilizing Linkedin successfully. Browse groups related to your school, your major, your general interests and skills, etc. There are endless ones to choose from, and the more you join, the higher chance you have of coming across the right opportunity. Also, connecting with people is one of the main purposes of Linkedin, so don’t overlook it. The most important thing to remember, however, is that this is not Facebook, so don’t send a connection request to just anybody. Connect with classmates you know, alumni you know, family members, co-workers, etc. and your network will expand greatly before you know it.
Finally, make sure you are going into this with the right expectations. Linkedin isn’t necessarily where you’re going to get offered an internship or job. But when you do apply for these opportunities and employers search for you online, coming across a terrific profile will help you immensely. Later on, when you are accepted for one of these positions, you can connect with those people involved, update your page, and your Linkedin persona will blossom from there. At that point, you will be quite glad you established your profile so early on. If done correctly, it can benefit you greatly.