Professors and staff at Drake University are dedicated to connecting students to internships and other work opportunities. Leading the charge at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication are Chris Snider and Timm Pilcher.
Both are avid users of the site LinkedIn to connect with colleagues and other professionals. Through the site, Snider and Pilcher gather postings about opportunities and make them available to students.
Snider encourages all his students to connect with him on LinkedIn. Since he started teaching at Drake, he has worked to build a network of current Drake students and alumni.
“I try to form that connection between current students and past students,” Snider said.
Timm Pilcher is considered a LinkedIn Advisor. In this role, he is provided with more features and is asked to provide feedback to LinkedIn through surveys.
Pilcher said being a LinkedIn Advisor helped him move from his role at the Des Moines Public Schools to his current position at Drake as an Assistant Director of Professional & Career Development Services.
Before his position at Drake, he used LinkedIn to connect with colleagues at DMPS. Now, he uses LinkedIn in an entirely different manner: for students.
The most common way Snider and Pilcher discover new opportunities is through direct messaging on LinkedIn. Professionals and employers looking for new talent send messages to Snider and Pilcher about jobs. A lot of the time, it is Drake graduates who make that connection back to their former professors.
Typically, Snider will create different threads for the Fall and Spring about different opportunities to pursue in the upcoming months. Oftentimes, his connections will comment or message him about more opportunities to add to the list.
Snider remembered previous success stories, one involving a student who wanted to work for a company based in Wisconsin. The student had noticed that Snider was connected to someone who worked at the company. She had asked Snider to send out a message to him.
“I had no idea who this person was or why I was connected to him,” Snider said. “He was just so impressed by the fact that she thought to make that connection, he hired her.”
Unfortunately for Snider, he does not always get to see all the success stories. Snider works primarily with students that are in their first couple years at Drake, so he does not always get to see them go off to pursue professional opportunities.
LinkedIn is not the only method of connecting with professionals. Both Snider and Pilcher see value in in-person networking. Pilcher also suggests using other social networking sites for professional pursuits.
At the surface level, Facebook might be seen as a social site, but Pilcher said that it can be used for professional careers as well.
“In certain ways, we have come to the best job searching moment in the world,” Pilcher said. “Don’t close any doors.”
Snider and Pilcher suggest that any student who wants to start creating opportunities for themselves should get on LinkedIn. Pilcher worries that students consider LinkedIn to be an ‘old person social media,’ but thinks it is still the best way to connect socially and professionally.
“I am wise enough to know that in two years something could entirely take its place,” Pilcher said.