Prior to this year, I had no idea what LinkedIn is or how it could benefit me. I’m sixteen, almost seventeen, and I have been in an entrepreneurial class called Noble Impact for the past two years. The class was introduced to us our 10th grade year. The class has taught me a lot about the way I present myself to people I would like to get potentially get to know better, both personally and professionally.
This year in our Noble 201 class, one our of assignments was to create an account on LinkedIn. When I downloaded the app and looked over it, I was very confused. It was not like Twitter or Instagram, apps which had included colorful pictures and funny updates I can “like” or “favorite.” The app mostly just had articles. It seemed pretty boring.
To set up an account, I had to input my name, job experience, and other details about myself, which I assumed LinkedIn would use to direct me to updates or posts that would interest me. After a couple of questions and clicks, it sent me to the homepage, at which point, I was still thinking it must be like Twitter, so I was looking for things that a teen would look for — something along the lines of my interests. Immediately I was bored, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t the fact that there was a lot reading — it was the fact that it didn’t hold my attention.
A couple of days passed, and we were asked to write a good summary that could show other people viewing our profile just how credible we are. I put my summary in and cleaned up my profile a little bit more and was surprised how easily connections were just coming back to me. All of a sudden, the app wasn’t boring anymore. I started to see the value of it. I was looking for jobs at the time, for example, and I would get on and search for the company I was interested in, and it would pop up with a description and sometimes an opening. We also learned in class that you can see how we’re connected to people who work at the organization on the company’s LinkedIn page.
I also got some help on how to clean up my profile from my Aunt Melba. She is a very high-profile woman and has many titles. I was at her house this summer, during which time she happened to be looking for a new job. She has so much experience and so many references that I was surprised she wasn’t getting called for new jobs by the second.
Beyond the basics of filling out my profile, Aunt Melba has also taught me about online safety. She called me recently to suggest that I remove my birthday (date and year) from my public profile, warning me that though LinkedIn is a professional site, there are still creepy people lurking around. She was basically saying that I’m in this for my professional development, not for strangers to know my whole life story.
As of now, I still use the app, and I constantly get on to check for interesting articles and people I can connect with. The app isn’t boring; I was just taken aback at first, because I didn’t know what to do with it. But now I realize I can use LinkedIn for high school growth.
I’ve learned so much just with this app alone. It taught me how other people look at me and how I want other people to look at me. Also, it is not like Twitter. The concept of Twitter is to connect and engage with other people however that may be. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is for professional use only. It is for getting connected with people in the same area as you, who may share similar career goals or interests.
So, while it can be difficult to get used to for first-timers, LinkedIn is not boring.
Header image courtesy of LinkedIn