As posts flooded the Class of 2021 Facebook group in the days after early action decisions were released in 2016, admitted students scrambled to share Twitter handles, Instagram usernames, Snapchat codes and other social media identifiers with soon-to-be-classmates. I scrolled past posts soliciting Xbox gamertags and online chess forum usernames without a second thought, but I paused when I saw a post filled with dozens of my fellow admits’ LinkedIn profile links. “LinkedIn,” I thought. “Isn’t that for middle-aged, uptight businesspeople?”
Never to be left out, though, I spent a few days over winter break filling in my very own LinkedIn profile, dredging up old club memberships and leadership roles that I had long forgotten. Though I’ve mostly left my profile untouched since then, I’ve done enough LinkedIn people-watching to notice a few trends within my growing pool of connections.
The Gatsby: Can’t repeat the past? Well, maybe not, but it certainly features heavily on lots of LinkedIn profiles. I count myself among those users who have made little-to-no effort to update our profiles since high school. No matter what I pursue, join or accomplish on the Farm, the most significant piece of information that people can glean from my profile remains my tumultuous tenure as president of Italian Club in high school.
The Techie: I don’t understand half the words on these profiles. Somehow, the techies have coded their way to some seriously impressive-sounding accomplishments that I admittedly wouldn’t be able to tell from that program that makes Karel punch bricks, or whatever it is everyone was working on in 106A all of fall quarter. If your profile includes Silicon Valley internships, CS 107 section leading and “B.S. in Computer Science” as your header since before you matriculated, you probably have a techie LinkedIn profile.
The Mystery: It seems that the LinkedIn bug has infiltrated a number of schools across the country, since I’ve received lots of connection requests from high school acquaintances and other pre-Stanford friends I haven’t talked to since graduation. More often than not, I get these requests in the early stages of the other person’s profile set-up, so their profiles are usually comprised of the grey default headshot icon and a very limited amount of information beyond where they attend college.
The Blogger: Believe it or not, I have several friends who make time to post actual blogs on LinkedIn when they’re not crushing p-sets or hammering away at a final paper. How anyone has the time to share words of wisdom during Week 5 I have yet to understand, but regardless, these people deserve a round of applause. Bloggers’ content on LinkedIn spans a wide spectrum from political rhetoric to motivational anecdotes – LinkedIn is like a box of chocolates that way, if the box of chocolates had the side effect of reminding you that every single person you know has a summer internship lined up except for you.
The Social Butterfly: I’ll admit that when I saw LinkedIn included in the barrage of social media posts in the 2021 Facebook group so long ago, I was skeptical. I wondered how a career-centered website could possibly qualify as “social.” This group of LinkedIn users proves me wrong: with over 500 connections, I’d say the social butterflies have made LinkedIn about as social as it can be. And so long as they don’t start trying to sell me Flat Tummy Teas, I’m glad to see it.
Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.