Meg Garlinghouse, the head of social impact at LinkedIn, spoke about networking and philanthropy on Tuesday night at the “Kickstart Your Social Impact Career” event, an annual career fair that connects students interested in public service with prospective employers.
Billed as “a chance to have candid conversations with representatives from over 60 public interest organizations,” the event connected undergraduates from all classes with professional organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to wikiHow to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The event was co-sponsored by Stanford Career Education (BEAM), the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), the Haas Center for Public Service and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR).
Garlinghouse talked about her current work, which she described as “the intersection of philanthropy, nonprofit, technology and internet.”
“It looks like I had this very, very intentional path, but there are definitely some curves along the way,” she told students.
Garlinghouse explained that prior to working at LinkedIn she worked at the World Bank, which she said she thought was her dream job. However, she said it was “without question, the worst job [she had] ever had.”
Garlinghouse noted that the notion of having a socially-impactful career is gaining popularity, which can be seen in part through CEOs and corporate leaders who take “bold stances.” At the same time, Garlinghouse warned against “fake change,” a concept introduced in the book “Winners Take All” by Anand Giridharadas.
In particular, Garlinghouse cited Giridharadas’ argument that although some philanthropists are trying to “change the world,” they are instead “exacerbating inequities” because they fail to focus on structural change.
She singled out Jeff Bezos, who recently announced he was setting up a two billion dollar fund. At the time of that announcement, Amazon got criticized for not paying hourly workers a living wage. Since then, Amazon has announced it will pay workers more, which Garlinghouse called “a great step forward.”
Garlinghouse also spoke on the importance of networks, saying that those who are referred for a job opening are 10 times more likely to be offered that job than those who are not referred.
“If you’re not leveraging your network to also get the job, you’re not going to get the job,” she said. “Thankfully, you guys have huge networks.”
In an interview with The Daily, Garlinghouse stressed the need for greater diversity in the workforce.
“I think the best way to create more diverse employee bases is to have more diverse recruiters,” she said.
Garlinghouse also described her personal “plus-one” initiative, through which she tries to balance interacting with people in or near her personal networks with those outside her networks.
Garlinghouse stated that she would not avoid interviews with people who “look like her” and reach out to her. However, she said she is intentional about including in interview processes people who don’t look like her.
“I’m going to balance it out, and have an informational interview with someone outside my network,” Garlinghouse said.
The career fair
Both students and employers praised the event for providing important information about opportunities in the social impact sphere.
“I love this event,” said Laura Deehan, a public health advocate with the California Public Interest Research Group. “In fact, generally every year I find at least one person who over the course of the year, you know, I’ve stayed in touch with, and they’ve ended up joining our staff.”
Alex Zaheer ’19 attended the event to represent an arm of the Department of Defense, Defense Digital Service.
“As a student I was pretty disappointed with how small the public service options were at the career fair that happened last week — this is a much more encouraging setup, I think,” Zaheer said.
Chris Adusei-Poku ’20 compared the event to the VentureSU fair that was held Tuesday.
“I think social impact is a really interesting sector to apply consulting to,” he said, adding, “I’ve been doing a lot of the other consulting info sessions and things like that, so to be at one that’s a little more social impact-related was an interesting change — I’ll have to go and type up some LinkedIn messages.”
According to Adusei-Poki, VentureSU was “less of the ‘we’re trying to help people’ and much more of the ‘we’re trying to make money,’ which is totally valid and something that I’m also looking at — but I think that having that flavor added to it this time has been a nice change.”