internships

Person using LinkedIn on a laptop computer

How To Create A College-Ready LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn has become the premier networking social platform across the globe. Unlike it’s more casual social counterparts in Twitter and Facebook, this platform is solely dedicated to connecting like-minded professionals and allowing them to share personal and business updates with the world. Just like you may follow someone on Instagram after meeting at a party, it is best practice to connect with someone on LinkedIn after meeting them at work-related functions.

The myth that surrounds LinkedIn is that it is strictly for working-class adults. Most students believe that you do not need one until you graduate college and begin looking for a job. This is not necessarily the case. If used correctly, a high school student can leverage their LinkedIn profile to increase their college admissions prospects, build their network, and meet the right people before going off to college. Here are a few basic guidelines for creating that college-ready LinkedIn profile.

It All Starts With The Picture

I will assume you are capable enough of logging onto LinkedIn and follow the steps laid out to get started. The first step in this process is selecting the right profile picture. This picture is the first impression you make on new contacts you connect with. This picture must be as professional-looking as possible. Do not use a picture of you making a silly face, out at a sporting event, or with someone else. It should be a headshot of just you.

When taking the picture, try to find someone in your network who own a professional camera. The quality will be much better than taking a selfie on your iPhone. In the event that you cannot find anyone with a professional camera, try to find someone with an iPhone X or higher. Next, be sure that your picturing is being taken against a blank background to avoid distractions. Lastly, wear the type of shirt you would wear to an interview and make sure your hair is done. For men, this is the time to shave your beard or at very least trim it down.

The Headline of Your Story

Your LinkedIn profile is a chance to tell your story of who you are, what you have done, and, most importantly, what you are looking accomplish. As a high school student, your primary purpose is to impress college admissions counselors and connect with college employees, alumni, and future students. Keep this in mind as you begin to fill out the rest of your page. 

Underneath your picture and name is a section for a headline. This is an opportunity to catch the attention of anyone visiting your page. Spend some time thinking about college and what you plan on studying. Let’s say you are currently a junior, still applying to colleges, and interested in education. Your headline would read something like this: “Motivated High School Junior With A Strong Interest in Studying Education In College.” This headline tells your new contact who you are and what you are looking for.

What Are You All About?

As you scroll down the page, you will run into the “About” section. This is not a section to leave blank or mindlessly enter in a few random facts about yourself. Think about your audience and the message you are trying to send. This section should tell the story of a motivated high school student who is actively building its network to create long term success. After reading, you’re about section, people who have never met you should know that you are a motivated individual who cares deeply about their future career.

Personally, I have no problems talking about myself. However, I am a speaker and author, so it comes naturally. For many, speaking about themselves is incredibly difficult. You may find it even more challenging to write about your positive attributes and future plans. If this is the case, simply go back to the questions I asked earlier about what you are looking to accomplish on LinkedIn. Who are you looking to connect with? What topics are you interested in studying? Where are you currently going to high school? What extracurriculars are you currently participating in? Those answers should give enough information for a brief 3-4 sentence About paragraph.

You Have More Experience Then You Think

As a high school student, you may not think you have anything to put into the experience section. Typically, this section is meant to list out the jobs you have had, the companies you have worked for, and the responsibilities you were entrusted with. Over time, this is where you will include your internships and on-campus jobs. For now, it’s a section that can highlight the jobs you had in high school.

Any job you had in high school is worth listing. It shows that you can be trusted with responsibilities. When adding a job, think about the tasks you completed and anything that shows you being mature, trustworthy, loyal, reliable, and creative. This may include handling cash, creating the schedule for other employees, keeping count of inventory, or tracking shipping. Also, be sure to add any school clubs you were a part of or volunteer work you have done or continue to do.

What Are Your Interests?

The last important section that a high school student can focus on is Interests. This is a section to show others what types of companies, products, and people you are interested in. First, choose two companies that are well known in the field or industry you are considering. Then, choose two profiles of thought leaders such as Tony Robbins, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos. Lastly, choose a few companies whose products you enjoy. This is a straightforward section that simply meant to give new contacts even more information about who you are.

Conclusion

LinkedIn is a no brainer for anyone who is serious about the next steps in their life. As you progress, you will be able to add things like internships, awards won, and degrees earned. For now, focus on telling the story of a high achieving and ambitious high school student. The people you connect with will be impressed that you are taking control of your future at such a young age. Remember, you never know who you will meet or where your new relationship will lead you.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

5 Questions To Ask Before Making Your College Choice

As a high school senior currently involved in the college application process, the last few months have been long and complicated. At this point, you have visited several colleges, submitted applications, written essays, double-checked deadlines, and filled out enough forms to last a lifetime. For many, the final step of the process has finally arrived. If your lucky, you were accepted to a few or several colleges you applied too. Now, you must choose where you will spend the next four years of your life.

Most schools set the deadline for choosing a school for May 1st. I highly advise you to review the deadline for each school to ensure they do not have there own, earlier deadline. Regardless of when the deadline may be, the choice of where to attend college is not something to take lightly. It is a decision that will have long-lasting implications on your future, career, and overall quality of life. As you consider your options, here are five things to think about before making this critical choice.

#1 – Does the school provide the type of environment you need to succeed?

It is easy to be impressed by a sprawling campus that has beautiful buildings, new classroom technology, big-time campus events. The quality of the school is essential. However, it is not about how wonderful the campus looks or the school appears to be. It is about the environment it produces and if it is right for you. If the school is not providing what you need to be successful, then you need to ask yourself why you would go there in the first place?

To understand what exactly you need, you can ask yourself some basic questions. For example, what kind of class size are you comfortable in? If you benefit from smaller class sizes and situations that allow you to ask questions, then you should avoid the schools that offer mostly large lecture hall type classes. How easy or difficult will it be to get from class to class? If the school you are considering has your future classes located on different campuses, that is something to take note of. The key is to collect as much information about what life will be like at that school and decide if it will serve your needs.

#2 – What types of career services to offer current students and graduates?

 If there are two or three colleges that you are considering that appear similar, this could be a crucial tiebreaker. While college is meant to help you grow as a person and become independent, it’s primary purpose is to prepare you for a fruitful career that will allow you to make the impact you seek. If you are going to spend four years and thousands of dollars on a school, you need to be sure they have the necessary services to help you obtain a job when you graduate.

 As we have spoken about in past blog posts, it is crucial during campus tours to visit the school’s career center. This is the department that is supposed to help you find internships, craft your resume, and help connect you with employers after graduation. Does the school you are considering to offer these services? If you are unsure, connect with alumni on LinkedIn and them directly about how helpful the school was with these tasks. It would be best if you were choosing a school that will act as your partner and does everything possible to ensure you start your career off on the right foot.

#3 – What do the alumni have to say?

During this process, you have hopefully asked a lot of questions. You have inquired about various topics with your tour guide, admissions counselor, and faculty you have met along the way. While their answers are essential and can be valuable, it is crucial to gain information for those who are not currently employed by the school. It’s not that these people will give you incorrect information; it just means that they are more likely to provide you with positive answers because they work for the school.

This is where school alumni come into play. Alumni are a great resource because they used to be a student and have already gone through all of the things you are about to encounter. They will give you an honest insight into the school. This is where you ask your questions about internships, dorm rooms, food quality, class size, and anything else that is important to you. Ask about where they are in their career and the role the school played in getting there. Lastly, ask them point-blank if they could go back in time would they still choose that school. By connecting with 3-5 alumni, you can get the complete picture you seek.

#4 – What makes this college worth it?

I have spent the past few years asking college graduates about their time in college and what they would have done differently. Nearly every single graduate answers by talking about student loans. Simply put, graduates did not do enough research when it came to the loans they were signing up for. The result was massive debt waiting for these students after graduation. They were caught off guard by the considerable monthly payment they were being required to make.

I am not saying that you should not take out loans to cover the cost of college. However, if you are going to be taking out loans that impact your future, you should know precisely why you are doing. It is crucial to understand what makes this college worth the price tag. If you are deciding between a few schools, and one is considerably more expensive then the other, you owe it to yourself to find out why that is. Ask yourself, is this college worth this amount of money? If they have the major your want, a great internship program, and an amazing alumni network, then yes, it might be worth it. However, you may find that cheaper option on your list also has all of these things. If the more affordable, less known school, is going to deliver what you need to succeed, then that might be the school for you.

#5 – Am I ready to go to college?

This last question is more about internal discovery and honesty; then, it is about any particular school. The college admissions process comes on strong and basically takes over your life for several months to over a year. You get so caught up in paperwork and research that you may lose sight of what is truly important. College is the step in life that is supposed to prepare you for the real world. It may seem like the obvious next step, but that does not mean it will be an easy one.

Before you choose a college, you need to conduct some self-discovery. Are you mature enough to go away to college? Are you ready to study harder and longer than you have before? Do you know what your plans are for after college? What are you going to study, and why did you choose that area? It is okay if you do not have all the answers right now. Just be sure to take the time to answer them before you move forward into one of the most important phases of your life.

Conclusion

Choosing a college is a choice that will impact your quality of life for decades to come. You owe it to your future self to make a choice that is in your best interest. You also have every right to ask if a school is worthy of your time and your money. As long as you do your research, ask the right questions, and take it seriously, you will end up with a choice that will set you up for a successful college experience and real-world career.

About Kyle

Kyle Grappone is an educational coach helping students prepare for the next steps in life.

Are Summer Programs Important for College Admissions?

By Kendell Shaffer

My son’s college advisor told the sophomore class that what they do this summer will be looked at seriously by college admissions directors. Admissions directors see summer as a continuation of your student’s learning and expect them to take advantage of this time. So no lazy summers!

Colleges want to see that your student is either taking a summer course, doing an internship or has a summer job. I am happy to see three choices because summer courses can be expensive and not available to everyone. Most colleges and universities offer courses to high school students and allow them to stay in the dorms. NYU, for example, has a great selection of very appealing courses for high schoolers but they range from $3,000-$7,000 per student plus airfare and expenses. Sometimes junior colleges offer classes to high school students. The local JC in our area offer these classes for free.

Internships are a wonderful way for students to gain job experience as well as work in a field they are interested in. My daughter did an internship the summer before her senior year and her supervisor wound up writing a letter of recommendation for her college application. My daughter also found that on college interviews discussing her internships was a comfortable way to talk about herself and interests.

One thing I keep hearing from college counselors is that colleges want to see consistency. If your child goes the summer job route, then perhaps going back to that same place of employment each summer and maybe advancing in responsibilities or hours will show rigor and commitment.

If none of these options work for your child, if it’s too late to sign up for a course or maybe you are spending the summer with family out of state, then perhaps your student could write about their summer experience. Maybe they could blog about their experiences and their new environment. Or offer to write an article for the local newspaper. Even create a photography portfolio. Just see that they follow up the following summer, so when it comes time to apply to college, they will have a body of work to show.

Teenagers have lots of energy and when used wisely, they can produce a lot of great content. Sure they need to study for SAT’s but summer doesn’t have to be all about test prep, nor should it be. And a lazy afternoon once in awhile is probably a good idea too.

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