Guest author Sophie Fraser is a senior at the York School in Toronto. She is passionate about technology and helping other students navigate the digital world. Is your profile in need of an update? Don’t forget to add your IB experience.
By Sophie Fraser
I seem to be the only Grade Twelve student I know who’s not on Facebook. I’m almost part of a minority in that way, but for me, it’s not something that I want to spend time on. I think it’s a great social networking tool, don’t get me wrong – it’s just not one that I find myself particularly drawn to. I am, however, getting to know a different social networking program that isn’t as associated with my age group: LinkedIn. As it is April of my graduating year, I am spending a lot of time thinking seriously about the next few years of my life and what will follow those years of post-secondary education.
This is where LinkedIn comes in. It can help you decide on anything and everything, like what university you want to attend next year. As well, it can connect you with tons of the world’s professionals in the field that you are considering. There are over 347 million users on LinkedIn. That’s a lot of expertise that you could be accessing to help you to make these key life decisions that are really going to impact your future.
Some of you may have already been introduced to LinkedIn by your parents, and I know what you probably said. “I don’t really see the point. It sounds like a lot of work.” I have to confess; I have said the same thing. But getting to know the program better really allowed me to see that things such as the InMail function (a messaging or email system used by LinkedIn members in over 200 countries) is really all that my Dad said it was and more, as it really does open doors that you didn’t even know were there, plus it is very easy to use.
In November 2014, I created a LinkedIn profile. The beauty of LinkedIn is that it doesn’t cost you anything to be a part of. It can then act as your personal resume, as a creative portfolio, and as a personal website that you can use to launch your career. By reaching out to other members, not only can you get advice from them but they can also endorse your professional skills, adding more value to your page.
What do you think people look at first when they open a LinkedIn profile? Similar to Facebook, it is the profile picture that usually draws someone’s attention. I really recommend getting a professional headshot taken, because of the value that I feel it adds to the profile itself. It’s surprising how important that image is when trying to make a great impression. I have created a program at my high school that allows students to get these types of headshots taken at the same time as grad pictures for the students to be able to use in their LinkedIn profiles. This is something that any high school could do to really help boost their students’ individual successes.
Additionally, it is really important to keep your profile updated and to show off your profile whenever you get a chance. Don’t be afraid to include a link to your LinkedIn profile in important emails that you send to potential employers or other people who you connect with on a regular basis, because not only does it give them a great impression of who you are, but they could also endorse your page.
It is also very important, as it is on any social media network, to understand how your information is being shared online. Though it is fantastic that there are so many people all over the world who can connect with you, you want to make sure that you keep a close eye on your privacy settings just because it is very important, especially as students, to maintain your personal safety and security online.
The more high school grads that join LinkedIn, the more likely it is that there will be new content available to help students our age understand the program that can sometimes seem a little too adult and advanced for us. It is very important that students get involved with LinkedIn at this point in their careers, as there is no question that the benefits of having these kinds of profiles are immeasurable. Get yourself and your friends involved today so that we, as young people, can start creating more change in the world, helped by the international LinkedIn community.