As of last year, over 332 million people are using LinkedIn. As undergraduate students at Vassar, we are all looking to begin networking and searching for a great summer internship or possible job opportunity. Is curating a LinkedIn profile necessary for success?
Resources on campus for job-hunting advice and more include the Career Development Office (CDO) and, of course, more seasoned upperclassmen and alumnae/i.
Assistant Director Jannette Swanson often conducts workshops and one-on-one appointments with students and is considered the resident LinkedIn expert by colleagues.
“In this day and age, it is important to be found online—and to be found in a good way,” said Swanson. She recommends that Vassar students fully embrace the site in their time here, and early on. Just last weekend, Swanson helped organize the office’s first-ever Sophomore Career Connections event on campus. The CDO staff hired a photographer to take LinkedIn headshots for over 100 sophomores in attendance.
For current seniors like Nathan Bazan ’15, graduation is nearing and the time has come to make future plans. Having recently landed a job with Microsoft, Bazan emphasized the necessity of a polished online image. “It makes the process of networking a lot more simple and easy to navigate, “ he said. “I think the main benefit of LinkedIn is in having a professional online presence that doesn’t carry any of the risks of a casual networking site like Facebook.”
However, as a computer science major, Bazan does not use LinkedIn as his go-to platform for online networking. Instead, Bazan maintains a personal webpage—which tech companies expect to see—as well as an account on GitHub, which serves as a repository for coding projects. Bazan does not discount the value of online networking sites such as LinkedIn, though. “I do think it is an incredible thing for our generation to have,” he said.
Even so, networking and job opportunity does not always materialize in these conventional online spaces for some students.
Jack Owen ’14 is an alum of Vassar whose twin brother found a job through Tinder. As he explained, “Basically, he was just messaging with a guy on the app and mentioned that he was home in the DC area looking for a job…there were some openings for positions at the organization where he was working.”
Owen said his brother proceeded to land an interview without ever meeting his Tinder contact in person. “[It was] kind of an offbeat way to find a job, but I actually know multiple people who have found jobs through apps like Tinder,” he remarked.
Though we often think of LinkedIn as a main database for networking and job searching, there are many other ways to represent yourself positively online. Owen said he has used Idealist, Monster and Facebook to find jobs. “To get an internship or job, you have to put yourself out there and cast a wide net. Focus on actually getting offers before you start making decisions based on location, pay and passion,” Bazan advised.
Owen added, “Remember that people find jobs in the most random circumstances. When looking for a job, don’t undervalue yourself.”
Though online job hunting can be valuable, networking often lands students an opportunity. The extensive network of Vassar alumnae/i is a valuable resource. The CDO as well as the Alumnae House provide opportunities for exposure to the network for students.
“Given that a majority of job and internship opportunities are never posted online, we recommend that students take advantage of the Vassar network to work their way closer to internship and job opportunities,” said Jannette.
To do so, the CDO recommends their wide array of resources such as the Alumnae/i Directory, Alumnifire and VCLink—all accessible on their website. Owen and Bazan both agreed on the importance of taking advantage of Vassar’s network of alumnae/i, both while at Vassar and after.
Furthermore, Bazan stressed the importance of building relationships with professors. “It’s also important to talk to your professors about the process of getting an internship or job because they usually have connections in the field and can give you a better idea of what to focus on in a resume for your particular field,” he said.
Once you have found the internship or job opportunity though, Owen reminds you to stay aware. He warned, “Of course, few entry level jobs are going to be glamorous, but really take the time to think about what you’re signing up for and if it’s a position and environment that will be good for your overall well-being.”