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Linking In to a Web of Internship Opportunities

On Facebook and Instagram, social media users stringently select privacy settings that keep much of their media exclusively accessible to real world friends and "friends." However, in the scramble for limited job and internship opportunities, people often change their philosophies on the necessity of private information. They quickly shift from being concerned that people will be able to find them through stalker-like Googling, to hoping that their information is readily available, detailing where they are, where they’ve been, and what they’ve done.

This, of course, is in reference to LinkedIn, the website that has most plainly put the “networking” in “social networking.”

From its modest beginnings in 2003, LinkedIn has blown up as one of the biggest game changers to the recruiting process for both companies and individuals seeking employment. Both businesses and individuals use the site to promote themselves professionally.

One might think that the digitization of recruitment would make it easier, or at least faster, to get a job, but, “Applying for positions on LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily expedite the process,” said Rachel Greenberg, associate director of the Boston College Career Center. “Each organization has its own timeline, which dictates the length of the process regardless of where or how you apply.”

Yet LinkedIn’s popularity with various industries is well-documented, with all of the Fortune 500 companies represented on the site, and it has by and large become the most popular social network serving professional purposes. With its overt importance and estimated 100 million unique monthly visitors, it has become nearly indispensable that hopeful young professionals optimize their own budding profiles.

The first thing any recruiter or individual looking to connect will see is the profile picture; it stands out from a wall of text and accomplishments. Adding a professional photo to a profile makes someone 14 times more likely to be viewed on LinkedIn. The stock photo of a gray cartoon can be off-putting to employers, whereas an appropriate and friendly photo will make a candidate more approachable.

Furthermore, the photo should be current and reflect who the candidate is today. This SlideShare presentation details how to take “the Perfect #Workselfie.” In addition to being offered on campus at major career networking events, a LinkedIn Photo Booth is available during the Career Center's drop-in hours.

So who is it important to connect with on LinkedIn? Outside of friends, classmates, and family members, it is recommended that students expand their criteria to those who work in their desired industry or partake in the same professional groups. The Boston College Career Center maintains a guide on how to use LinkedIn professionally, and recommends that students begin by connecting with at least 50 people.

Many people consider LinkedIn to be something of a mini resume. Professionals do, after all, use it to showcase their experience and skills, much like on a resume. LinkedIn, however, as a social networking site, gives users the chance to convey more personality than a resume would. For example, the option to write a summary is especially beneficial in highlighting important skills and experience.

LinkedIn also allows recommendations that employers wouldn’t see on a resume. LinkedIn profiles are also not customized as resumes should be—a resume is, or at least should be, tailored for each job a candidate applies for. On the other hand, LinkedIn gives recruiters a chance to gauge the entire array of a candidate's experiences.

One final way students can enhance their profiles is with endorsements of skills by their connections. LinkedIn gives its users the opportunity to outright list up to 50 skills. It is perfectly acceptable to add interpersonal skills, like public speaking and ability to work in teams, on LinkedIn, whereas on a traditional resume, they take a backseat to technical skills.

Is LinkedIn the way to go? Many websites that offer advice on job hunting do stress the importance of creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile. While it doesn’t ensure any user will get his or her dream job, utilization of a platform that allows one to manage his or her online presence and professional relationships can only be advantageous in the search for that perfect internship or job.

Click here for the Career Center’s complete “Guide to Using LinkedIn Professionally."