October 8, 2012 by Ashleigh Brock
I am a certified LinkedIn addict. I use it every day, multiple times a day in my job to help students and alumni. I do not do so because it’s trendy, or because I think it’s cool to be connected on social media. I use LinkedIn because it’s an easy, practical way to research career and graduate school options, connect with William and Mary alumni and help students harness the power of their networks to find opportunities.
While connections to friends, family and colleagues are one central way to use LinkedIn, I’d like to share a few of my favorite methods of using the site that have nothing to do with accepting that connection request from your roommate. I use LinkedIn every day to:
- show students where a William and Mary degree can take them. Just recently, Linkedin introduced an alumni page that creates an awesome visual using data from LinkedIn users tied to particular institutions. If you went to or currently attend the College, you can go to the alumni tool and see, for example, that 612 W&M alums are on LinkedIn in Chicago, eight of whom work at IBM. Or, of the 3,373 Tribe folks in Richmond, 250 work in finance. Pretty cool, right? The tool also allows users to click on multiple cities, or companies, or fields to do cross-dimensional searches. I use this in a lot of ways, like showing sophomores looking for summer internships in D.C. what companies house the greatest number of alumni.
- help seniors find entry-level jobs. LinkedIn also introduced a tool that pulls out entry-level job postings from the vast pool of opportunities companies post on the site to help college grads find good matches for their skill levels from across a wide array of industries.
- encourage students to do their research. Perhaps the most underused LinkedIn tool available is the Companies tab. There, you can find information about small businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, major corporations, and government agencies, some of which post jobs directly to their company pages.
Finally, I use LinkedIn to empower students to build their network. Sophomore Connor Norton learned about LinkedIn during his Major and Career Exploration seminar at the Career Center his freshman year. He writes:
During the past summer, I interned at AT&T in Northern Virginia, working with a William and Mary alumnus with whom I connected on Linkedin. During the spring semester, I explored and joined as many William and Mary alumni networks as I could. Soon after, I began posting in each of them, soliciting both suggestions for companies to apply to, as well as positions that alumni were actively looking to fill.
I heard back from many alumni, but one in particular showed interest in me. He forwarded my résumé and cover letter to HR, and I applied for the internship on the company website. I interviewed with a member of their team during spring break, and by the end of the semester, I had a valuable internship experience waiting for me in the summer.
The internship proved to be extremely beneficial. I learned many skills and got a better handle for professional environments. On top of that, I gained valuable professional contacts, which should serve me well in the future.
Strong alumni networks are great, but they are worthless if you don’t know how to leverage them. Using Linkedin, attending career fairs and receptions and participating in different workshops and programs offered by the Cohen Career Center are the best ways to get the most out of the fantastic William and Mary Alumni Network.