When you’re not ‘LinkedIn’ to the Georgetown culture

Published March 24, 2024

Design by Madeline Jones

Vil A Rooftop, circa September 2023: “can I get your LinkedIn?”

A bizarre question to come out of an 18-year-old’s mouth. I’m briefly shocked into a stunned silence: did he really just ask me for my LinkedIn? What is the response to that? 

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Unfortunately, this is an all too common experience for many on Georgetown’s campus. LinkedIn’s iron grip on the Georgetown population spans all years, majors, and schools. The obsession with Corporate America™ heightens in every baby-faced freshman as soon as they pass through Healy’s hallowed halls. From vying for unpaid positions in coveted consulting clubs to near fistfights over the front-row seat in IR lectures, Georgetown culture is defined not just by how well-connected you are, but how you subsequently climb the social ladder. And what better way to connect yourself than via the only app used equally by boomers and Gen Zers alike?

As a public school kid from the South, LinkedIn was as foreign as good pizza and public transportation. Most people I knew from home didn’t even have a LinkedIn profile. I know I certainly didn’t. I made a profile the summer before freshman fall and copied my dad’s—he and my mom were my first (and only) connections. As such, it’s hard not to feel woefully incompetent when faced with my over-eager peers who tout over 300 connections within their first month here. We can’t even legally drink yet; what do you mean you have three years of experience in legislative internships? Since when does everyone have professional headshots?

These are questions that I frankly still don’t have answers to. Since February, my LinkedIn profile has been blessedly updated and I have added to my meager two connections; unfortunately, I am still unsure of how to actually operate the app. I accidentally posted a job update to my feed that I don’t know how to take down. Both my mom and dad commented and liked it. I find myself stalking friends’ and acquaintances’ profiles, memorizing and mimicking their professional word choice—this was, of course, before I learned that you can see who views your profile. But maybe I wouldn’t be so inept at networking if I actually had people to teach me. Everyone must’ve learned somewhere—nobody spawns into existence with both the charisma of Frank Sinatra and the business know-how of Jeff Bezos. So why isn’t Georgetown doing more to uplift its less-connected students? 

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The reality is that Georgetown doesn’t do nearly enough to support the majority of its population, leaving someone like me—who didn’t go to a private college preparatory school or have nepotistic connections to government higher-ups—unable to take full advantage of the Georgetown network. We have some of the most well-connected alumni in the world, but you wouldn’t know it if all you had to depend on was the Cawley Career Center and some casual conversation skills. Don’t get me wrong, the Career Center is all well and good, but it’s not going to get you that McKinsey position or State Department internship that we all crave. To be a Georgetown student and do it “right,” you have to play the game. The game, of course, is schmoozing and networking—deceptively easy and not at all fair. Those of us who were not trained to treat every conversation like a potential business deal simply won’t, and we’ll inevitably miss out on those chances for future progress. Meanwhile, those who are “LinkedIn” will continue to climb the corporate (or government) ladder. 

While Georgetown’s unique LinkedIn culture is strange, I don’t believe that it’s necessarily a bad kind of strange. It’s one thing to entirely base your life around your LinkedIn profile, but there certainly are benefits to getting a headstart on your career. I’ve used the feature that recommends people to connect with as a way to reach out to those I’d only met in passing, and it allows me to get a sense of what my peers are pursuing professionally. But it also gets overwhelming.

Yes, it’s important to be involved on campus, get the internship, and meet the right people—but we’re still so young, way too young to be using terms like “deliverable” unironically. There’s absolutely no need to have our 20-year career paths planned out to a T. This is our test run for the real world, a time to experiment and learn. The blunders are just as developmentally important as the coffee chats and office hours. Curate your LinkedIn (but don’t give it out at rooftop parties), put away the Western business attire, and cancel the subscription to that resume-builder website. We have the rest of our lives to get to 1,000 connections; enjoy college. 

However, I doubt that this advice will be taken to heart, and the vast majority of us will continue our quest for political infamy—Lockheed Martin is one of Georgetown’s biggest recruiters for a reason. And, though I’m diametrically opposed to joining the workforce before I’ve beaten teen pregnancy, I’ve been trying (and failing) to use LinkedIn’s “job search” function daily to find summer jobs. I’m rightfully off-put by Georgetown’s pre-professional culture, but what do you do when you can’t beat them? You join them.

You could join more “chill” clubs that don’t require three rounds of interrogation and still offer mentorship and guidance. These clubs—and they do exist—offer a supportive environment minus the cutthroat The Devil Wears Prada (2006)-esque interpersonal relations. Or, you could start networking on a smaller scale. Befriend those you know who have connections on LinkedIn, meet their connections, and make them your connections. Yes, LinkedIn sucks; but as long as it’s here, we might as well take advantage of it. If you do, you could have a veritable army of potential bosses, recruiters, and recommenders willing to vouch for you. Is using your friends for their connections gold-digging? Maybe. Is it what everyone else does? Absolutely. It’s easier said than done, no doubt about it. But to win the game, you’ve gotta play the game. 

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