Encourage Students to Use Social Media…Professionally

February 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Posted in Advising interns, career center, Finding internships, Intern Advice, networking, Social media | 1 Comment

Christa Juenger

I often work with students that are about to engage in their first internship or job search. As we start the process to prepare, we discuss the usual topics: the focus of the search, preparing the resume and cover letters and how to search for a position strategically.  When we get to the “strategically” stuff, I ask a lot of questions about networking, which leads me to their use of social media.

MySpace? – Yep.

Twitter? – Tweet.

Facebook? – Duh! (I bet that dates me)

LinkedIn?  LinkedIn? LinkedIn? – This is often met with a mumble or guilty silence.

Coaxing students, especially in their first couple years of school, to start their professional networking can be difficult.  They don’t have time, they don’t have a professional network, they don’t have any experience – are objections that I often hear.  As career development advisors, it’s important for us to encourage (i.e. prod) them to start utilizing social media for more than just fun – making it also work for them to build their professional image and resources.

A few tips to assist your students with their professional networking:

  • Suggest alternatives if they pitch you objections:
    • No time? Make it part of a class project or assignment to create a profile and utilize social media for professional development. Challenge them to give up just 30 minutes of TV or texting a week to focus on professional networking sites.
    • No work experience? Their job title may be Full-time Student – they can list classes taken, projects worked on and extracurricular activities to their profile. They can keep in front of contacts by updating their status with (appropriate) updates, posting articles to share or using applications to upload projects they have worked on.
    • No professional contacts? Even my 5 year old has professional contacts (like his soccer coaches and preschool teachers…he is always on his best behavior with them). Students can reach out to friends, family members, classmates, faculty, advisors and community members they know through sports and volunteer activities (be sure to remind them to only invite people to their network that they know personally).  This is also a great time to encourage them to build a strong professional network (and resume) by actively seeking internships throughout their college years!
  • Make social media part of your career services topics and workshops, if it’s not already.  Walk students through the process of building a profile and offer to review their online profiles just like you would with their resumes and cover letters.
  • Start a LinkedIn group for your school, department or career services office. Invite the students to be part of that group and encourage them to join other groups that interest them.
  • Direct them to the student section of LinkedIn for the benefits of online professional networking: http://learn.linkedin.com/students/
  • Have you been asked to “friend” a student on Facebook?  Redirect them to your LinkedIn, Plaxo or Xing profile (I noticed that I’m a little biased towards LinkedIn) and suggest that you connect on there instead.

Encouraging our students to start using the vast array of social media available for professional networking NOW will help them to create lifelong networking habits that they will thank us for later!

P.S. – Keep your eyes open for exciting news regarding an Internships.com networking application for your students!

This post was written by Christa Juenger, a huge Buckeye fan, avid photographer, and career coach with a passion for networking.  Find out more about Christa and the rest of our bloggers on our new About Us page.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Buckley, John Buckley, kearney235, Vera Rich, Pat Brosnan and WEST and others. Pat Brosnan and WEST said: Encourage Students to Use Social Media Professionally… «: As career development advisors, it's important for us … http://bit.ly/gk3iyp […]

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