Social media provides connections, job opportunities for students

If you think the only purpose of social media is to check on “friends” and post your latest “selfie,” think again.

In the age of technology, networking in the professional world is no longer limited to conferences and the exchange of business cards. LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking service, offers advanced ways to build connections and find job opportunities without leaving your desk.

Dr. Darren Lawson, dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communication, described LinkedIn as a “dynamic online resume.” With the click of a button, LinkedIn grants you access to a plethora of relevant connections.

With more than 300 million users internationally, LinkedIn continues to expand. “From a business perspective, LinkedIn is helpful for finding internships and jobs,” Lawson said. “By the time you’re a junior you should be connected on LinkedIn.”

Dr. Kris Martin, chairman of the Division of Accounting in the School of Business, recommends adding a history of your key classes, internships, recommendations from professors and other materials that you would put on a traditional resume.

Martin said networking is a two-way street; look for opportunities to express your gratitude. “After completing an internship, I advise students to write a summary of what you accomplished and include it on your profile,” Martin said. “In addition to specifying your skills to future employers, this is a great way to thank the company that allowed you to intern.”

According to Lawson, one of the best ways to make a good impression for possible future employers is to include a professional photograph on your profile. Lawson highly recommends the Vintage portraits. “I can always tell when a student is from BJU because the quality of the Vintage portrait stands out against the others,” Lawson said.

After your profile is effectively developed, start building your network by “connecting” with people you know. Once connected with another user, you gain access to all of his or her contacts. Lawson invites students to “connect” with him to gain access to his 3,000 contacts. Martin advises students to contact faculty members in their department to seek out connections with promising opportunities in their field.

While social media can help you in your job search, as well as in your social life, Lawson said students should use social media websites with caution.

“Once on these social networks, students have a public persona,” Lawson said. “This is part of your testimony.”

Future employers have access to what you read and post online. So use your social media responsibly.