True or False: You Should Get Your Middle Schooler On LinkedIn.com RIGHT NOW

(The Answer Will Surprise You.)

The answer?  As long as your child meets the LinkedIn.com minimum age limit of 14, it’s absolutely true.

Your child needs one place to keep track of all of her accomplishments, achievements, work experiences, school and scouting awards, scholarship awards, job shadowing experiences, and volunteer and service hours and experiences, right?  LinkedIn is a spectacular place to do that.

 

In the consulting work I do with medical school applicants at www.getintomedschool.com, I’m continually astounded at how few premed college students keep records on the volunteer and service work they’ve completed.

Pre-med students are some of the most driven, high-achieving students on the planet — and they usually know how critically important clinical volunteer work is for a competitive med school application.  Still, they’ll shadow or volunteer for hundreds (or thousands) of hours and never record the dates and hours they put in, who supervised them, or what they saw and experienced.  When I’m working with these students, I have to work with sketchy clues to piece all of that together, and it’s a lot of work.

LinkedIn.com is an ideal place for all students over age 14 (no matter their ages, majors, or career goals) to keep track of all of these things.

LinkedIn.com itself recognizes the value in this, and since 2013 has worked to make LinkedIn.com a good, safe place for students 14 and up.  An August 2013 Wall Street Journal article by Evelyn M. Rusli gives this reassurance to parents:  If a new user indicates that he or she attends high school, that person’s account will automatically have higher security settings, the company says. For example, if a high-school student submits a complaint, it gets bumped to the front of the cue and is handled by a special team. Further, these profiles cannot be viewed by third-party tools.”

Sure, I realize that this student is not yet even in high school.  Yes, I know that the job title will read something like:  “Quinn Ackerman, 9th Grade Student John Marshall High School.”  Yes, I know that there will not be much work experience to put on it.  That is completely OK.  Parents, help your child to create this LinkedIn.com profile early on, and then sit down with your child regularly throughout high school and college to check the profile over and help him or her to add new details and keep it updated.

I wish I didn’t have to say this, but parental involvement is absolutely necessary if a student age 14-22 is to create and regularly maintain a detailed LinkedIn.com profile.  Because of the progression of adolescent brain development, even the most high-achieving student under the age of 22 is not likely to feel compelled to either create this profile or keep it updated — unless a parent leads the way by 1) setting aside the time 2) sitting the student down 3) completing the login process 4) scrolling through and asking questions about what might be added.   

Why is parental involvement so necessary for this?  Why are students unlikely to do this on their own?  One reason is that students tend to feel as though anything they have to put on their LinkedIn.com profile “is not interesting enough.”  They feel niggling fear and worry that their little accomplishment is pale and puny compared to what other students have accomplished.

Students’ inability to see the value in what they’ve accomplished is a huge reason that families hire a consultant like me to help students apply to law, medical, business, or graduate school.  I spend vast amounts of time every day telling highly accomplished, brilliant college students that indeed, what they’ve done is excellent and well worth putting on a med school application.  Why can’t these students see this for themselves?  Sometimes I think it’s because they’re like barbers trying to cut the hair on the backs of their own heads.  They’re  just too close to their own situations to be able to see what I can see so clearly.

Believe me:  the little things entered on a LinkedIn.com profile really do add up.  The profile becomes more and more impressive as the years go by.  The information your child keeps entering is a goldmine, making it easier and easier for her to fill out private scholarship applications, college applications, and eventual medical or grad school applications.

Do you need additional help setting your kids up to succeed brilliantly in college, graduate debt free, and move directly into careers they excel at and love?  Use the free, clear, step-by-step checklists I provide for parents on this website.

Question:  How did your mom and dad keep track of all of your accomplishments, achievements, work experiences, awards, and volunteer and service hours when you were in high school?  How does the method you’re using to keep track of your child’s experiences differ from that?