Get in with LinkedIn

Don’t be afraid to ‘connect’ with professors

By on March 31, 2011

Find an internship. Get a job. Make enough money to live on your own.

At least one of these goals will nag you throughout your collegiate career – if not already, certainly by your senior year. Achieving all of these goals is actually quite simple.

The key is making connections. The people you know could determine what you wind up doing with your life.

But many of you are like me and don’t have valuable connections that quickly lead to well-paying jobs. You only envy those who do.

Good news: College is your best shot to meet people who can make a difference in your life. So don’t blow it.

It’s time you make the most of your annual $50,000 investment in Quinnipiac, or at least make a valid attempt. Take advantage of the small class sizes and get personal attention from your professors. These people at Quinnipiac have already found success in their fields. Furthermore, they are possibly the easiest connections you’ll ever make because you have “Q” in common.

Too shy to speak up after class or visit during office hours? Clueless as to what to say because you really just want them to hand you a job?

That’s all right. Allow me to introduce you to your new best friend: LinkedIn. It won’t bite.

LinkedIn is a social network similar to Facebook but designed to help you find work and help employers find you–not to share deprecating photos of you and your friends from your latest New Haven nighttime adventure. In other words, it’s an easy way to sell yourself to companies and make a good first impression. It’s essential for college students looking to join the workforce.

Check out your profs on LinkedIn, especially those who teach in a field that interests you. Use LinkedIn as an alternative to professor review websites when course registration time comes along. Whom would you rather have as a professor: an easy grader who worked at places you will never even consider or a hard grader who worked at your dream job? I hope you’d select the latter.

But don’t just click “Add them to your network” without including a personal message and expect them to accept. Be proactive, not reactive. Tell them why you want to connect – professionally, of course – and thank them in advance for connecting. One more person in your network doesn’t mean squat if you neglect to connect with them. Ten close connections will take you farther in life than 100 weak ties, and a go-getter will beat a lethargic job candidate every time.

Read their profiles. Find out where they used to work – and sometimes where they still work. I love that some of my professors balance teaching with personal ventures.

One of my journalism professors co-founded the first community-controlled sports franchise. Another is a self-employed Web developer who teaches Web design.

This will give you a better sense of specific job titles that exist in your field of interest, which may help you determine exactly what you want to do and where to apply.

Understandably, not all fields of study are as practical as communications, business or design. For example, most history majors don’t become historians and just because you are majoring in Spanish doesn’t mean you are destined to be a translator.

Still, connecting with your professors definitely can’t hurt. Maybe they obtained a non-practical degree – as you’re on track to receive – but found work in a completely unrelated field. Ask them.

After you really connect with your professors on LinkedIn, you will have something to say to them after class. Then maybe you’ll visit them during their office hours and they will be the ones who bring up the idea of internships and jobs. Trust me. They’re here to help you in the real world, too.

Who knows, maybe they’ll be the ones reaping the benefits of knowing you down the line.

 

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About Lenny Neslin

Editor-in-Chief
Email: editor@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @lsneslin
Year: 2012
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: Hanover, N.H.
Dream Job: Sports Illustrated Writer