On one of the first days at Cornell, I was herded into a large lecture hall with about 200 other engineering freshman who were similarly oblivious to most things Cornell — like how your keys will still work even if they aren’t on a Tatkon Center lanyard around your neck. At this meeting, I was given advice from the some engineering advising representatives. They told me two things (read: I remember two things) at this talk: 1. Yes, you can go abroad. You’ll need to fill out some paperwork though, so it really isn’t even worth it, and 2. Get a LinkedIn profile and start connecting.
My fellow esteemed Daily Sun columnist, Jacob Glick, recently addressed the topic of whether or not to study abroad wad I highly recommend reading his piece if you are considering going abroad or like to practice reading. Because of this, I will focus on the second word of advice given to me early freshman year: Get a LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. That’s what it calls itself. This probably sounds awesome to that large part of the student body that is absolutely obsessed with getting a nice job offer at some professional workplace. I call these people “weirdos” and/or “ people who got interviews when I didn’t.” Here is something cool for those people: If you click on “Cornell University” under the education section of your profile, you can see all of Cornell’s alumni on LinkedIn (although I still have yet to find a legitimate enough looking Bill Nye profile to connect with). From there, you can sort all of those profiles based on where they are located, the industry they work in, the specific company they work for, their favorite sea mammal — basically whatever you can think of — and then send them “InMail” asking to set up an informational interview … or whatever. Ask the Career Services office; they will know better than me.
Now, I am speaking (typing) to those of you who are not “weirdos” or “people with interviews.” More than just a professional network, LinkedIn is also the world’s best social network. A lot of people may disagree with that statement, but they don’t have a soapbox to preach from like I do. They will just have to deal with it. LinkedIn is basically a beautiful combination of Monster.com, (pick one: eHarmony.com, PlentyOfFish.com, ChristianMingle.com, Glutenfreesingles.com, Meet-an-Inmate.com, etc.) and Facebook. We have already gone through how LinkedIn can benefit you professionally like Monster, but frankly that is probably the most boring part of the website.
Let’s look at the online dating aspect of LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you don’t have to worry about being tagged in unflattering photos — you just have one photo, and you’re likely looking extremely sharp (all my readers are beautiful) in professional attire. And what is the best way to get to know someone? Becoming friends and having conversation? No. It’s by looking at their résumé. So when you look at that allegedly eligible bachelor or bachelorette in your recitation, you can check out his or her LinkedIn profile, see that there is no research experience and move on.
And lastly, how is LinkedIn like Facebook? Well — it isn’t. It is a lot better. Statuses are gone and it is tremendous. Rather than that weird kid from your OL group posting statuses about his or her new hamster, hamster wheel or terrarium for said hamster, you get absolute gold like a CNBC article simply titled, “The Business of Wedding Crashers” showing up on your newsfeed.
But what really sets LinkedIn in a league of its own is the creeping. Yeah, you could mindlessly click through pictures of a person or even see what bands or movies they like, but to really cut to the core of someone, you need LinkedIn. Additionally, friendship on Facebook is way too intimate for the number of people I am trying to keep tabs on, and I feel no shame connecting with all of those elementary school teachers that I felt victimized by on Linkedin. My old music teacher for example, is the type of guy who will both name his child after a tree and kick of a seven year-old student out of class for sneezing. I know this because his son is named “Cedar” and because he once kicked a seven year-old me out of class for sneezing. So, I knew he was a hippie who hated kids with pollen allergies without the help of any social network. LinkedIn, however, gave me a URL to his personal website. There I found downloadable mp3 files of hit, original songs like “Columbus Rap” as well as an events calendar that would theoretically allow me to follow him to all of his shows at various Denver Public Libraries. That, my lovely reader, is an effective creep. While Facebook would have given me some photos to maybe mess around with in photoshop or some suspect favorite movies, nothing will compare to the revenge I get every time I hear the intro marimba riff to “Shake the Papaya Down” and chuckle to myself walking down Ho Plaza.