LinkedIn is Finally Student-Friendly!

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LinkedIn developed as a professional network which found its niche among other social networks in allowing professionals to share their work experience, publish recommendations, post general background information such as education, and offer links to their company websites and their other social media platforms.

But what about me?  I plan on being a professional in a couple years, but when I joined LinkedIn last year I found that it didn’t allow me to create a profile which would accurately reflect my achievements and interests.  LinkedIn was so focused on people with jobs, that they forgot about us lowly college kids.

Because there was no way for students to post most of the information about ourselves which potential employers would find most appealing, most of us left our profiles largely undeveloped.  I know a lot of very impressive college students—top colleges, top grades, top scores, zillions of achievements—but when I go to their LinkedIn pages, it looks like all they’ve done is intern for a campaigning office or a hospital.

Luckily, LinkedIn seems to have recognized this problem.   On July 15th, they introduced LinkedIn Sections.  Now users can click “Add sections” and choose between nine new modular information boxes they could potentially add to their profile in addition to the ones that appear by default.  Not all of them are geared toward students, but as a whole they enable students to better share their experiences and achievements.

Here are the new sections:

Certifications

Honors and Awards

Courses

Languages

Organizations

Projects

Patents

Publications

Skills

Test Scores

I appreciate that we can now choose which types of information we want to present about ourselves.  I updated my profile right away: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/aaron-clayton-dunn/22/359/987.  Personally, I only added the Honors and Awards section because I had previously been displaying that information in the additional information section, which I felt deemphasized my academic and other non-professional accomplishments.  I speak Spanish quite well, but I already mentioned the immersion program I participated in.  I don’t hold any patents, haven’t published anything since high school, and only have an expired certification as a Boy Scout Lifeguard from four years ago.  The only other section I considered adding was test scores, but I decided that, although I did well on the SATs (2300 out of 2400), I would prefer to be evaluated on a more nuanced set of criteria—and yeah, I’m still annoyed they docked me 60 points in the math section for getting just two medium-level questions wrong!  Oh well, moving on…

It will be interesting for me to see how my friends enhance their profiles with these new features.  Maybe it will take a while.  After all, they hardly ever visit the site because it has never been relevant to students and our college communities.  But as that changes and more college students begin to use the service, maybe it will become a way students learn about each other online.  I imagine it will be used increasingly by student organizations when considering applications for leadership positions.

This is a great step forward for LinkedIn.  If you haven’t visited in a while, maybe it’s time to update your profile and add some connections.  It’s never hurts to network.

Ever True!

Aaron

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