How to use Linkedin in College: Resumes, Mentors and Internships.
About three months ago I realized Linkedin may be a helpful resource for my future career. Flash forward three months later and I cannot emphasize how useful Linkedin has already proven to be for a college student like myself. And although I wish I could have known about the different ways to utilize LinkedIn earlier, I am certainly grateful for what it has (and continues) to teach me.
And out of my gratitude, today I am going to attempt to share some of the useful ways that I have found that college students like myself can utilize Linkedin. Ready to learn?
1.) Resume Reconstruction:
This first tip is the most basic of them all, but in my opinion one of the most important (and possibly time consuming, so don’t worry the other points will have a fraction of this information).
Most college students have a resume of some sort that includes a basic description of their past jobs, awards, education, etc. Unfortunately however, Linkedin is not your local Starbucks, and expectations from your future employer for your resume are hopefully much higher. As a result, the first thing to do before reconstructing your resume is to spend time discarding parts of your resume that not applicable to your new professional profile.
Now, time for three tips for reconstructing your resume:
- Tip number one comes from personal experience, specifically to never hesitate to ask mentors to review your accomplishments/job descriptions—they have a wealth of knowledge that they are often eager to share.
- Tip number two comes from my various mentors' advice, specifically to emphasize and precisely describe your education accomplishments when creating your Linkedin profile. Pointing to specific clubs, projects, courses, awards that you have received in college is important because it not only demonstrates your work ethic, but also your experience and applicable skills that may not have been showcased from your past jobs.
- Tip number three is that as you embark of your reconstruction process remember that your job descriptions/duties (even if the job title itself does not), should tie back to your area of study/career interest—This is your time to share how you utilized specific skills to accomplish specific goals at an organization.
- And last but not least, tip number four is to pretty please remember to be professional. The local Starbucks may graciously overlook your poor grammar, but chances are that future employers will not.
2.) Job Advice/Mentors:
Possibly the greatest piece of career advice that I have received thus far came from my Organizational Communication professor who said that college students can often idealize their future job without understanding a.) what that idealized position consists of, and b.) what it will realistically take to obtain that specific idealized position.
College environments can often advocate “dreaming big,” but unfortunately dreaming big may not be that helpful if we fail to be at least a little realistic.
For that reason, my professor advised his students to first research potential jobs that they wish to obtain after they graduate (whether a dream or realistic job) online. And while you are researching potential jobs, make sure to write down the specific titles of jobs that interest you for step number two.
Second, after finalizing your research, utilize LinkedIn search engine to find individuals with similar jobs you are interested in by searching a specific title. And since according to Linkedin's "about page," the site has over 450 million users so it should not be too difficult to find individuals with the specific job title you are searching for.
And third, reach out to as MANY of the individuals you found on LinkedIn with the job you are interested in as possible by requesting to connect using the friend option. Now here is the really important part of this process: remember to include in your invitation to connect that you are a college student who is interested in learning more about their job and/or that you would love their career advice. Including that your college student seeking advice is important because it gives you a valuable in to their network that you would otherwise not have.
Side tip: do NOT be discouraged if every one of your mentors don’t accept your invitation, this is why it is so important to send many invitations to different career mentors.
And lastly, after you eventually obtain invitation acceptances, I would suggest using that connection in two different ways.
First, study their career and education history—become knowledgable about their work and what they did to get where they are today BEFORE you write them a message. And second, send said individuals a personal LinkedIn message. If you use the right questions in your message, your targeted LinkedIn members' response may a.) possibly un-idealize your dream job by giving you unique insight into their position, which may decrease or increase your interest in said position, or b.) teach you about what steps you will realistically need to take in order to reach your dream position.
I highly suggest creating your own list of questions, but here are just a few ideas:
- How would you describe your day to day work as a (fill in the blank)? - What type of projects do you work on as a (fill in the blank)? - What is your favorite part of your job? - What is your least favorite part? - As an undergraduate student who aspires to eventually enter your same career field, what are some of the things you recommend I focus on right now, (internships, mentorships, online programs, research, etc.)?
After you have reconstructed your resume, perfected your LinkedIn profile and received valuable mentor advice and connections, Linkedin is also the perfect place for college students to search for potential internships/employment opportunities.
The Linkedin search engine is surprisingly simple to use and perfect for looking for internships, especially after you hopefully have a good idea about what positions you are interested in, (courtesy of those amazing LinkedIn mentor connections).
Using key words that specify your intended industry, position type and date, you may be astonished to find out how easy it is to find and apply to different positions.
And while some companies direct you to their website to apply for their position, some allow you to apply simply using your LinkedIn profile, which may save you valuable time.
Finally, not only does LinkedIn’s search engine allow you to easily navigate through hundreds of positions using only one site, but it can also help you put your connections to work.
For example, if two of the mentors you reached out to during your advice hunt work at Google, and you are applying to Google, Linkedin will show the company you are applying for your connections. And as we millennials know all too well, “connections are everything.”
...Well that's all for now. I do apologize for my lack of expertise/experience on this topic, but I do hope at least a few of my tips were helpful.
P.S. I am deeply sorry for the poor grammar/vocabulary in this post, (we can blame that on the fact that I had almost no time to write this post).