We regularly meet with our students to help them source internships and learn about the industry they want to be a part of. We ask them what companies they aspire to work for, what job roles they hope to walk into and what career paths they might like to follow. The truth is, that’s exactly why they come to meet with us in the first place, because in many instances, they don’t know. But LinkedIn is changing that.
Don’t get distracted by the homepage
To understand how to make the most of LinkedIn, you need to look beyond the homepage. True, you can waste your day reading mind-numbing updates and ‘inspirational’ messages from self-declared influencers, but at the same time, you can use it to build a network of knowledge for students and staff to thrive in.
A network of knowledge?
Seriously, LinkedIn is quite possibly the easiest to use and most detailed database of career information available to every single person on the planet. Your students can access career profiles for 150,000+ UTS Alumni without paying a cent, to see what people with the same degree have done before them and what they are doing now; where they are working, what their job title is, what their daily duties are, what projects they’ve worked on, where they’ve done an internship, and any further training they’ve needed.
And guess what, students can contact them and ask them questions.
Surely if you want to learn about an industry, the best thing to do is to talk to people working in it. You may be thinking:
“Wait, what?! Send unsolicited emails to people you’ve never met before to ask them questions and advice? They wouldn’t like that would they?! ”
Newsflash: It’s a networking site.
If you do your homework, and actually have something relevant to ask someone, and you can demonstrate you’ve bothered to read their profile, people are actually very responsive.
So this is what students are doing. They are using LinkedIn to connect and engage with people in different industries. To build a web of information surrounding what they can do with their degree and who they can do it with.
So what do I need it for, I’m an Academic?
Whilst it’s fair to say that LinkedIn is more of a professional networking site than an academic networking site, it’s a fantastic place to share knowledge and connect with industry. The same industry which many of your students are trying to break into. As leaders in your field of expertise, students will often look to you for advice and guidance about the world they want to enter. And there’s one more way you can help them…
Build a network on LinkedIn
By building a network on LinkedIn, which your students can access through either a direct connection or a ‘group’ you’ve created, you’ll be opening doors which otherwise don’t exist in everyday student life. Because for LinkedIn to work effectively, you need to connect to a network of people. And it’s through these people that jobs are created and careers can begin – and isn’t that the point of doing a degree?
Your professional brand
I know, I know, maybe you don’t want to be a brand? Well that’s too bad because like it or not, an online brand is essential. It’s where you can highlight your skills and experience, tell people your interests and start conversations by sharing your research, projects and publications. And let’s be honest, if you don’t have an online brand by 2020, people will start to question whether or not you actually exist.
By building a LinkedIn network to connect and engage with students and industry professionals around the world, you’ll create jobs for people who need them, introduce your skills and experience to a wider community, and maybe – just maybe – you’ll open some doors for yourself along the way.
For more information about how UTS Careers can support your students, visit careers.uts.edu.au. If you would like to have a discussion with a Careers Consultant about how to incorporate LinkedIn or other career development learning in your subjects, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this blog post.