Are You LinkedIn?

The Spectrum

Aakash Agarwal, a junior economics major, Googled himself to see what he would find. The first link in his results wasn't Facebook, like he assumed it would be - it was LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional networking website created to connect individuals with colleagues, make contacts for jobs or internships, and to get advice from experts from various fields. According to their website, LinkedIn started in 2003 and has over 150 million members from over 200 countries. It's a gateway to finding employment and allows employers to find potential candidates while also letting those candidates research their employers.

Through LinkedIn, college students can showcase their skills in a more in-depth way than they are able to on their resume. Students can post their recommendations from professors, join groups of their interest, include lists that show what they are reading, and give details about their skills and expertise. Additionally, they can join professional events, see who else is going to attend, and create and answer polls about various topics and view results. Other applications can be added to your LinkedIn page such as blogs and travel details.

Unlike Facebook, which is a social networking site, LinkedIn focuses on professional networking. It is meant to showcase abilities and work experience. A user can upload pictures, update past and current jobs, and add friends who can become future colleagues and referrals.

Edward Brodka, group learning coordinator at Career Services, encourages students to sign up for LinkedIn to amplify their professional network. According to Brodka, LinkedIn helps gain access to the hidden job market - jobs that are not posted online but through the connections made on LinkedIn. This gives students a chance to be approached for an interview by several companies.

"I wanted to have current and future employers have a positive online image of me," saidformer UB student Brian Schick. "I locked down my Facebook account to anyone but friends and opened a LinkedIn account."

A recruiter through LinkedIn contacted Schick, who graduated in May with a master's in computer science. His information was forwarded to the employer and he was hired within three weeks. He is now a computer engineer in research and development for Sigma International in Medina, N.Y.

Schick's LinkedIn account, like Agarwal's, is the first result that comes up on Google - at least in the Buffalo area. As a result, employers can quickly and efficiently find useful information about Schick.

Brodka believes that college students should open a LinkedIn account to see what UB alumni have done.

"You can be on LinkedIn even if you are an undecided major," Brodka said. "You can look at what other UB alumni have done with their major and get some guidance out of that."

Students can make connections and find people who are in fields that interest them and email them for advice or for an informational interview.

LinkedIn is also a platform for meeting people with similar interests. It gives access to experts in various industries and keeps members updated with current trends. A user can post comments on forums, which allows for building connections between group members.

Agarwal makes sure to update his profile regularly and continues to make connections with new people he meets and looks for advice from UB alumni. He hopes that his LinkedIn account will help him land an internship or a job.