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Job Search Networking

A guide to LinkedIn for college students

Five ways to maximize LinkedIn

A person wearing pink pants holds a smartphone on their lap. The screen shows the LinkedIn logo.

Are you making the most of LinkedIn? As of 2023, it’s the 16th-largest website in the world (just two spots below Tiktok!), and it’s also a completely free way to build an online presence that can boost your job or internship search.

Check out these five ways you can maximize LinkedIn to achieve your career goals.

Step one: create a profile.

Think of your profile as a digital version of your resume – it’s a place to show off who you are and the skills you can bring to a new organization. 

Don’t think that because you’re still in college, you don’t have anything to add. Even if you don’t have extensive work experience, or you’re in the middle of changing careers, you can highlight the skills you’ve gained just being a student

Start simple: begin with your name, a profile photo, and what you’re studying at OSU, then build it up from there. Here’s how to get started.

Step two: make connections.

Even if you’re not looking for a job today, you will be someday. Build a network now so that when you need a job, you have a ready-made community you can turn to for introductions or tips on job openings. 

First, search LinkedIn for people you already know: friends, co-workers, past bosses, professors, and advisors. Don’t forget current classmates – they’ll be a valuable network for you in the future.

Then, reach out to people you WANT to know. It’s normal and acceptable to send a connection invite to OSU alumni or people with jobs you find interesting. Try to find a point of common ground, such as a shared interest or a mutual acquaintance, and personalize your request.

  • How to connect with OSU alumni:
    1. Find Oregon State on LinkedIn and click on the alumni tab. Use the search tool to find alumni from your college or major, or who are working at companies you’re interested in, then send them a personalized connection request.
  • Sample connection invitations you can modify:
    1. Hi Xiomara – I am currently a senior studying mechanical engineering at Oregon State and hope to enter the aerospace industry upon graduation. I noticed that you are an OSU graduate with experience in this industry. I would love to connect with you and learn more about your career path. Thanks in advance! – Phuong Quynh
    2. Hi Mikayla – I am currently studying graphic design at Oregon State University and hope to work for a creative agency one day. I loved your recent post about the brand redesign you did for XYZ client – it was fascinating to hear your behind-the-scenes process. I’d love to connect and learn more about how you got started in this field. – Elliott Hashimoto
    3. More sample connection templates

Step three: talk to others.

Once you’ve joined LinkedIn, you can increase your visibility by staying active. Even if you just post an update or comment on others’ posts once a month or so, you’re building a reputation as a positive member of an online community.

  • Join a group. Just like other social platforms, there are subgroups on LinkedIn for all kinds of interests. Enter a keyword related to your major or potential career in the search bar at the top, then click “groups” to filter your search results. Tip: Start by joining the Beaver Careers Group.
  • Share personal updates. You could post about a project you just completed for class or write about a small victory: “Just finished my last final! This term was tough but I loved my horticulture class – I learned so much about plant identification!”
  • Re-post an article you liked and take advantage of LinkedIn’s “repost with your thoughts” button to add a sentence or two about why you found it interesting.
  • Here are 10 more LinkedIn post ideas.

Step four: Advance your skills.

As an OSU student, you have access to a free LinkedIn Learning account. There are more than 18,000 online classes you can take to gain new skills and earn certifications you can post on your profile. Here’s how to log in to OSU’s LinkedIn Learning.

Not sure which courses to take? Do a search for jobs you might be interested in, then look at the qualifications listed. Are you missing anything? LinkedIn Learning might have a class you could take to fill in that gap. It’s a great (and free!) way to build on what you’re learning at OSU. Check out courses related to business, technology, and creative skills.

Step five: Get job alerts.

Your LinkedIn profile is also the key to an enormous job posting network. Instead of browsing through individual listings, use the platform’s automated tools to get notified about jobs that would be a good fit for you. 

  • Make sure that you’ve added skills to your profile (these could be personal skills like communication or teamwork, or skills specific to your field, like Python coding or market research). LinkedIn will use your listed skills to auto-suggest jobs for you every time you log in.
  • To set up job alerts based on your own preferences, click “Jobs” from the LinkedIn top menu bar, then select “preferences” and “job alerts.” 
  • You can also search for a job on LinkedIn, and then filter the results for things like job type (full-time, part-time, internship), job location, and experience level.

Want to learn more about LinkedIn?

Use these videos to make your LinkedIn presence even better.

Rock your LinkedIn profile

Using AI to help create your LinkedIn profile

Categories
Internships

Last minute internships: five tips for finding them

So, you were busy all year and you never found time to search for a summer internship. Now it’s June and you’re not sure what to do!

Here are five tips from career advisors on finding an internship, even when it’s late in the hiring season.

A student sits cross-legged with a laptop open on their lap. To the side is a graphic of an online search bar with the words "internships near me"

1. Reach out directly.

Is there a company you’re interested in working for? Check out their website or LinkedIn page. Even if you don’t see an internship posted, contact someone at the company to check! Employers don’t always publicize their internships as heavily as they do full-time jobs. The best way to find out if someone’s hiring is just to ask.

Tip: If you’re not sure what companies to contact, use the Buzzfile Employers by Major tool. Buzzfile is not a job board, but a great site for finding all the employers affiliated with a certain industry in a specific state or city – try searching for employers with keywords related to your major, who are located near your hometown or the city where you plan to spend your summer.

2. Use your network.

Many jobs come not from spotting a posting online, but from a personal connection. You may not think you have a professional network yet, but you have connections through OSU whether you realize it or not! A few networking ideas:

  1. Ask career advisors, professors, friends, parents, co-workers and TAs who is hiring and who they can introduce you to. (Don’t know who your career advisor is? Check the Career Development Center staff list or email us to connect.)
  2. Connect with OSU alumni! Use OSU Connections (OSU’s online professional networking site) or LinkedIn (search for Oregon State University and then click the “alumni” tab) to find alumni who are working at companies you’re interested in.
  3. Even if someone isn’t hiring currently, you always can ask them for an informational interview. An informational interview is a brief call or meeting where you can get to know someone at a company you’re interested in, and learn more about what that industry is like. An informational interview creates a relationship and can lead to more opportunities. Check out the Career Development Center website for more about informational interviews and how to request one.

3. Customize your materials to each position.

Many companies are now using automated screening tools to filter applications. If your resume and cover letter don’t contain the key words the AI is looking for, your materials might not ever get in front of human eyes.

Look carefully at the job description and see what skills they are looking for, then find commonalities in your own experiences that you can list to show how you meet the specific requirements for that job.

Tip: The experiences you list to meet job requirements or keywords don’t have to only come from paid work! Classroom experience and non-paid work like volunteering, clubs, sports, Greek life and more can all help you gain transferable skills that are very relevant, and they’re valid to include when you’re applying! 

4. Use a college-focused job board

Handshake is a job and internship search tool that’s specifically for college students and recent grads. While some jobs posted on Indeed or other job boards might be looking for people with years of experience, employers who post on Handshake are looking for college students. All OSU students have free access to Handshake via their ONID account – log in at oregonstate.joinhandshake.com.

A few tips on Handshake: this is a national job board with thousands of listings, so use filters to see exactly the kinds of jobs you want! You can filter by location, remote work availability, keywords and more. If you see a job you like, even if you don’t apply for it, favorite it – when you favorite certain positions, Handshake will show you more jobs like that next time you log in.

5. Use OSU’s free career services

Stop by the Career Development Center for a drop-in appointment or schedule an appointment in advance to work with an advisor who can help you tailor your materials and give you ideas about the best places to search for jobs. 

You can also access free online tools through the Career Development Center’s website:

  • a free online resume checker: Vmock
  • An online interview prep tool: StandOut
  • A career assessment tool that will help you figure out what would be a good fit for you: Focus2

More internship search tips

  • Want to work on campus? Many OSU departments hire students for the summer or all year long. Even if the department you work for isn’t directly related to your major, it can still provide a great experience for your resume.
Categories
Career Fair Internships Success Stories

Internship exploration

Can an online search really lead to landing an internship?

Oregon State student Adam Henderson found that if you’re searching in the right places, it actually can.

Adam, a finance major, already had solid work experience and a foundation of coursework from the OSU School of Business when he began thinking about internships during his junior year. In the past, he had worked in retail, at The Home Depot near his hometown of Sammamish, Wash.

But as he pictured his options for the summer going into his senior year of college, he was hoping for something more directly related to his goal of a career in finance – and something that would allow him to stay closer to the connections he’d formed while in school.

“I was trying to get ahead, and I knew I wanted to stay in Corvallis if I could,” Adam said. “So I went on Handshake and started looking up job offers and internship offers in the Corvallis area.”

Handshake, a job and internship site designed for college students and recent graduates, allows students to personalize their job search experience, setting up custom filters for job types, locations, and roles they’re interested in. Handshake job postings are vetted for legitimacy before they’re made visible to students.

As Adam browsed through the Handshake listings that met his criteria, a position with State Farm Insurance caught his eye – it was local to Corvallis, it would give him relevant business and sales experience, and it was with a company he trusted.

Adam Henderson, wearing a black OSU polo shirt and khaki pants, poses in front of a sign that says "State Farm, Jim Kuhlman Agent"
Adam Henderson, a finance major at Oregon State, found a local internship via the Handshake job search tool.

“I have State Farm insurance,” he said. “I feel like it’s a very reputable company. So I thought, why not give it a shot?”

His application caught the eye of Jim Kuhlman, an independent State Farm insurance agent in Corvallis. After the application, Adam was invited for a phone interview, followed by an aptitude test and in-person meeting with Jim, where he was offered an internship with the agency. 

Six months in, Adam’s summer internship has been extended into the school year, and he’s still glad he gave it a shot.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve had pretty good success,” Adam said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and how much potential I have.”

His internship involves everything from shadowing the sales team to working on marketing projects and meeting with customers. Through what he learned in his position with State Farm, he was even able to complete required state testing and is now officially licensed to sell insurance.

Now mid-way through his senior year, Adam is keeping his options open when it comes to jobs – he enjoys his work in insurance, but is also interested in careers in finance. Regardless of where his career takes him, he can already see skills he’ll take with him from his internship.

“The whole aspect of creating value is something we talk about a lot. When you’re selling insurance, a lot of times customers only think, ‘What’s the cost?’ You can break that down and go through it with them, but it’s really the value that sells the customer,” he said. 

“That overlaps into a lot of other jobs. When you create value for someone , they’re more likely to trust you and want to work with you. Learning to create and display the best value you can bring to someone is definitely something I’ll take away.”

Handshake internship search tips

There are thousands of positions posted on Handshake — here’s how to narrow down your options to find the internship or job that’s right for you!

  1. Use Handshake’s custom filters. Narrowing jobs by “location” (the cities you want to work in) and “job type” (part-time, full-time, internship) will help you key in on relevant opportunities.
  2. Use keywords. If you’re interested in any job that’s somehow related to “marketing” or “sustainability” but aren’t picky about the specific job title, do a keyword search on your filtered jobs. Handshake’s keyword search will search all text in job titles and job descriptions to find matches.
  3. Save jobs that catch your eye. When you hit “save” on a job posting, Handshake will automatically start showing you similar jobs next time you log in. It will also send you reminders about deadlines for jobs you’ve saved.

Learn more about getting started on Handshake.