Job networking websites help students kickstart careers


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Kylie Elwell

The “Work Like a Laker Conference” hosted by the Grand Valley State University Career Center has a schedule packed full of events March 8-18. This virtual event is provided to guide students through how much the job market has changed due to COVID-19. This conference is virtual, providing extra safety and numerous events and time slots for students’ busy schedules. One of the main virtual tools and networking sites to aid in job searching is LinkedIn. 

The schedule of events included categories like preparation sessions, professional development, industry information, and the GVSU Virtual Career, Internship, and Summer job fair. All of these categories included many links to helpful webpages, workshops and presentations given by alumni and career professionals. 

Lori Staggs, associate director of GVSU’s Career Center said, “LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool…especially now since we aren’t meeting face to face as much as we used to. LinkedIn, if used strategically and effectively, can be a great way to develop professional connections with people in your desired career field. GVSU has a LinkedIn page, and within that, you can see 100,000+ alumni, as well as where they work and live, what they do, what they studied.” 

On March 9, LinkedIn branding consultant and career coach, Cole B. Edwards presented students and alumni with ways they can utilize LinkedIn in their college and professional careers. Edwards is a 2017 GVSU Graduate, with experience in sales, marketing, branding and more.

A few main topics that he covered included how to understand your career path, setting up internship job alerts, researching companies of interest and connecting with people in your industry. 

“LinkedIn can benefit college students by starting with the networking aspect, networking, job searching, and building your professional brand are the three major spots with LinkedIn,” Edwards said. “They all kind of go hand in hand, but there’s a lot of career development involved as well.” 

The Career Center offers help to students by reviewing their LinkedIn profiles and offering suggestions on how to make the profiles more complete. GVSU’s Handshake platform is similar to LinkedIn in that you can create a profile, upload a photo and attach your resume. In Handshake, student users can see which organizations are connecting with and hiring from GVSU specifically. 

“I think both platforms (LinkedIn and Handshake) are excellent resources to utilize… and the more complete your profile, the more likely you are to be found by recruiters,” Staggs said. “The Career Center is here to help with all aspects of a career, from choosing a major, learning more about particular career areas, helping students find opportunities, assisting with career preparation (resumes, cover letters, interview coaching), and talking through other career questions a student may have.”

For students who are interested in the Work Like a Laker Conference, more events including industry information, virtual networking opportunities and more will be going on until March 18.