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November 5, 2013

LinkedIn & University Pages: Tools for Young Networkers

High school and college are a great time to create a career-focused network.

LinkedIn’s decrease of its enrollment age to 14 creates a new opportunity for students to start solidifying their “old boy” or “old girl” network well in advance of the time when they’ll need it for career networking.

Granted, 14 may be a bit young for career-related networking. But it all depends on the individual, and many students have the maturity to get started with LinkedIn.

Whether they’ll be interested is another question.

To appeal to younger members, LinkedIn added the University Pages feature, which could be helpful to students considering which college to attend and what career path to pursue.

To try this out, I assumed the role of a 17-year-old high school senior who might be planning to attend Stanford University here in the San Francisco Bay Area and then to pursue a career involving biology. I wanted to see what career paths people had taken after Stanford, and to be able to get in touch with some of them for informational interviews.

(Let’s assume I had already signed up, created a profile and started building my contacts list.)

I started my search by clicking into the “Interests” dropdown and selecting “Education,” and then navigated to the page for Stanford.

I set the date range for Attended to 2005-2020 to see recent graduates and students.

Under “Schools and Alumni Found” I entered “Biology” in the search field. This showed me profile snapshots of students and alumni, several with obviously biology-related occupations.

For example, one recent graduate, we’ll call him Arif, had begun his career in various research and assisting positions in academia, going on to become a research scientist and a Director of Biology at specialized pharmaceutical companies.

At this point I could try to get introduced to Arif through my LinkedIn contacts (and theirs).

Of course, the larger my network, the more easily I would be able to get introduced. So I would have used LinkedIn’s invitation feature to invite everyone I know to connect with me: friends, teachers, the supervisor from my summer job and places I’ve volunteered, and my extended family.

Would any of these people directly know people at Stanford or have careers in biology? Maybe not, but any of them might easily know someone who does (or who knows someone else who does). I now had access, potentially, to many thousands of people, some of whom may be able and willing to help me! And it would be fun and interesting to experiment with all of this.

Sounds simple? It is pretty easy to get started, but there’s always more to learn, both about this platform and the people side of networking. Start with my recent post, “10 Tips for an Impressive Profile.” I also recommend the blog I’m On LinkedIn, Now What? 

Know a student who could benefit from reading this post?

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