BY ANNABEL MONAGHAN
When you are a student in college, trying to navigate your way through the chaotic and exciting experience that is higher education, it is fair to say that it is considerably easy to fall into a pattern of focusing solely on your assessment due dates. After all, the whole point of higher education is to learn and expand your horizons academically and intellectually. But the students who tend to get the furthest are those who are willing and able to work with a decidedly different mindset, always going out of their way to create new ideas and bring new visions to life from their own creative inventory. These students are the ones that get the furthest ahead because they are the individuals who want it the most. That is literally the only difference between the leaders and the general success stories – consistent effort and hard work across the board. Being in college is already a challenging experience, but if you are bold enough to leap outside your comfort zone and work a little harder in your down time, it is almost sure to pay off. But how do you go about doing that in an already chaotic time?
Many people associate the professional social media platform LinkedIn with being a prime networking tool for people who are making waves in their chosen career fields. Of course, this is absolutely correct, but LinkedIn can be and should be a tool that individuals know about during their college years. Why? Because the sooner that one starts building a reputation for themselves in their industry (even if it is just online), the sooner they can gain valuable industry insights and networking connections that can help to propel their career forward even more. There is something appealing about an individual who not only knows what they want out of their career, but who is willing and able to fit to ensure that they not only get it, but that they get there on their own terms and on the tail of their own personal creativity and hard work. And that is where LinkedIn comes in to bridge the gaps and help you to establish a strong presence in your industry, ahead of the competition.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and that truth comes the inevitable reality that this is arguably the single largest and most convenient way to not only look for jobs, but to present yourself in a professional platform, with your best foot forward. During your college years, you might not be thinking about expanding your focus beyond the compulsory workload (and who could blame you, after all it is a massive workload, right?). But at the end of the day, the best way to get ahead and stay ahead, is to always be hustling – and yes, that means when you have down time, too (arguably especially when you have down time). The best way to proactively use LinkedIn to your advantage during college is to always be using some of your spare time outside of classes to be working on your own projects. Have you ever noticed how entry level jobs seem to require some prior experience, despite being “entry level”? While it might seem confusing and even frustrating, this is why it counts so much.
College students who are willing and able to work on their own ideas and practice expanding and fine-tuning their skills and talents in their own time, are more well-rounded, and their experience and willingness to drive their own motivation and progression, ultimately becomes key points in their experience, that are racked up before they have even graduated. And by adding all these self-driven points of industry or personal experience to their LinkedIn pages, they are essentially creating a backlog of all their progression that makes it easy for potential employers to look at their virtual CV with convenience and efficiency. This is where it makes all the difference in the world. LinkedIn profiles will say a lot about how motivated and driven you are to succeed not only when someone is telling you to and paying you for your work, but when you are determined and passionate to make it happen, without any direction from anywhere outside of yourself. Think of your use of LinkedIn as a more industry-specific iteration of the process of going to buy Instagram likes for a personal Instagram profile – the more you add to it, the more people will look at you.
Annabel Monaghan is a writer with a passion for education and edtech. She writes education and career articles for The College Puzzle with the aim of providing useful information for students and young professionals. If you have any questions, please feel free to email her at email@example.com.