LinkedIn as a Research Tool

Most of us know of LinkedIn as a business networking tool and social media site. It has become commonplace to professionals in many industries to post their profile. But LinkedIn is more than just another social media website; it could be one of your most valuable career path resources.

Even as a student, joining LinkedIn is a good start to getting into the professional world. If you already have a profile, you are one step ahead! If you do not, you can still get some great information from browsing on LinkedIn. For instance, conduct a Google search for a job title with “LinkedIn” added to the end of the search bar. Try a few similar phrases because the same job can vary in title across multiple companies.

If you are currently applying to jobs, LinkedIn is also a great research tool. Companies maintain information pages and post available jobs alongside company statistics. Simply visiting a prospective employer’s page can tell you the size of the company, their mission, and give you an idea of the company culture.

One of the most valuable ways to use LinkedIn is to browse profiles in your industry. Truthfully, looking through a stranger’s profile can feel creepy. However, it is well worth it because a person’s profile can list out their work and education history, which gives you an idea of how they fell into their current position. There is a wealth of information in profiles if you are wondering about credentials and work experience required for a path to your dream job.

This tactic is especially useful if you know what company you would like to work for. Searching a specific job title within the company will bring up several profiles, which will reveal several different paths to the job you are reaching for. For example, if you are hoping to get into the sought-after investment tract, you can see how people of different backgrounds found their way into the field. Sometimes the path is different than you would expect. You could gain a new perspective on how your own experiences and skill set fit into the picture.

Screenshot different job descriptions and work histories. Again, this can give you perspective and help you plan out your next move. Start a folder on your desktop specifically for your screenshots and job-hunting information. Taking a look at people’s work histories is also a good reminder that everyone starts somewhere.

If you do not already have a LinkedIn, consider getting one. At the very least, looking at other people’s LinkedIn profiles will help you see exactly how many professionals are on the site. You too can join and begin reaping the benefits.

How Your College Career Office Can Help You Reach Your Professional Goals

On-campus career development centers are an invaluable tool to help prepare you for the professional interview process. Career centers will give feedback on resumes and covers letters, and conduct mock interviews. They can also assist you in finding internships and jobs. Using this resource is highly recommended. Career advisers focus on helping you put that hard-earned, and often expensive, degree to good use. It is nice to know that as you prepare for the “real world,” you have helpful career counselors and advisers on your side.

Certain university departments may also have specific career or internship offices, as is often the case for business schools. Going through your business college’s internship center is important for disciplines such as accounting or finance professions. Firms love to form partnerships and go through school programs to handpick their interns and future employees. Walk into the office today and start interacting with advisers that will get you on the track to achieve your professional goals. Services career centers offer may include:

 

Career fairs

Colleges often host career fairs, where you can meet with representatives from various companies. This allows you to make a contact at a firm you are interested in and get your foot in the door for internships or even your first job after graduation. Look for area-specific career fairs: media and communication, and design; agricultural, food, and life sciences; STEM; and nonprofit, government, and helping professions are all possibilities. These fairs can be useful for maximizing your time and narrowing down your options to your specific interest.

 

Panels

Look out for those career fairs, but also stay in touch with the news feed to see when panels will be meeting on campus. A panel is typically a moderated, question-style seminar where professionals come in and talk about their paths and experiences. Students may attend these panels and listen to possible career paths, ask questions, and learn more about careers they can pursue with their area of study. For example, a panel for humanities majors could include professionals in media, communication, or teaching fields. This panel could feature professions such as social media manager, marketing account executive, museum educator, copywriter, newspaper reporter, nonprofit fundraiser, and many others. Additionally, after listening to professionals speak about their careers, you can interact with them and perhaps make a connection or two. One-on-one face time can be an amazing opportunity to show your stuff and make a positive, memorable impression.

 

Career center web pages

Many schools provide information pages on the web complete with links to career assessment tests, stories about other graduates’ career paths, and events or employers soon visiting campus. Other resources include job search links, videos on various professional topics, and the school’s involvement on social media. Also check out sites such as Optimal Resume, which provides templates and examples of resumes by field. A resume for an engineer can have a very different structure and objective than a resume for a graphic designer.

 

Graduate/professional school application help

Graduate school program information may be available through your career center as well, including how to apply. If you need help with writing a personal statement, for example, career office advisers can provide information on the format and give great feedback. Applying for graduate school can be a strenuous process, and your career center can help make it a bit easier. Also consult your professors and stop by the writing center for additional feedback.

 

Career center website

Many colleges have a website dedicated to students looking for employment that includes internship and job postings. After you pick out some opportunities you want to apply for, you can schedule a mock interview or a review of your job application materials with a career counselor. Schedule an appointment or visit during the walk-in period. Before your appointment, check out the career office website, as these sites often include cover letter and resume templates that can help get you started as well. Then, when you go in for your review, you can get more out of your session. Sign into your student account and get looking!

Your Professor as a Professional Resource

Despite the stereotypical image of academics as lofty intellectuals with minimal social abilities, many professors can be vital resources for discovering what is out in the professional world.

Yes, some professors may be immersed solely in their field studies; however, plenty of them have alternate experience and connections. At the very least, their take on their careers and academia could provide a new perspective.

Visiting your professor during office hours could turn into a good relationship. Better yet, you could gain a mentor who could write a reference or put you in touch with a contact. If you are pursuing an English degree, for example, there are alternate career routes to take after graduation. (You do not have to become a teacher, as everyone will likely suggest!) Asking about their job as a college professor is a positive starting point as it brings up a conversation about the actual subject and different angles of applying the degree. Options for an English major could include archival studies, publishing, editing, grant writing, fundraising, and, yes, teaching.

Other degrees, such as engineering or architecture, have straighter career paths. Although there are plenty of exceptions, most who earn a degree in engineering or architecture plan on becoming engineers or architects. It is also likely that an architecture professor would have a working history and alternate experience under their belts, so they could be a vital resource. A student could learn valuable tips about the professional architectural world and best practices in looking for a job (it could vary by firm).

Whatever your major, reaching out to a professor in your area of study is bound to be beneficial. Not only will you increase your chances of success in the classroom, but also gain some knowledge about professions you could pursue.

Also, check out other ways to learn about different occupations here.

Professional Resources at Your College

Discover what resources your college offers and take advantage of the services or opportunities that work best for you. A few resources are listed below:

1. Visit your college career center

You pay for services like the career office and writing center through fees tacked onto your bill, so why not use them as much as possible? Career offices give feedback on resumes, CVs, and cover letters, conduct mock interviews, and provide advice on networking, including technology on LinkedIn. If you need help finding summer and semester internships or a full-time job after graduation, this is the place to go. Many colleges have a website dedicated to students looking for employment that includes internship and job postings. Career advisers focus on helping you put that hard-earned, and often expensive, degree to good use. Schedule an appointment or visit during the walk-in period. Before your appointment, check out the career office website, as these sites often include cover letter and resume templates that can help get you started. Then, when you go in for your review, you can get more out of your session. Career centers also compile job postings on their websites. Sign into your student account and get looking!

2. Get to know your professors

Go to office hours. Whether it is striking up intellectual conversations, talking about papers, or getting help on homework, interacting with your professor one-on-one has numerous benefits. For example, engaging with your professor could very likely result in a better grade from your increased effort in the class. A professor that acts as a mentor could suggest career paths that use similar skills or recommend you to an internship program. It may depend on the discipline (and the teacher), but some professors have work experience outside of academia. Even those that do not often have connections in similar fields that you could be interested in.

If you feel shy about meeting with your professor, keep in mind that your teachers are eager to see you succeed and they are there to help. Choosing a thesis director or finding a future reference will be much easier if you have been keeping up relationships as well.

3. Join the Student Alumni Association

One of the best ways to meet and network with alumni of your university is to join the Student Alumni Association and work closely with the Alumni Association. Through the Student Alumni Association you can volunteer or get involved with organizing events with other students and alumni. Student members can also attend the alumni meetings. Events organized by your alumni association could include back to school kick-offs in your hometown, invitations to watch sports games as an alumni group, tailgating, and meet-and-greets around your college town. It sounds like fun, but it is also a great opportunity to get out there and make connections.

Other opportunities to meet alumni exist through departments and colleges within the university, as many often have networking opportunities and alumni speakers specific to the field of study.