Are students using the web effectively to develop their careers?

Jobs are thin on the ground, but what measures can be taken to boost your prospects online?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Economically, America may be on the brink of a fiscal cliff, and the U.K. is reportedly experiencing slow but sustainable job growth. 

In reality, for the average student, these factors do not come into play when faced with yet another day of job hunting. CV after CV, the occasional smattering of interviews, and no, there's no luck. 

However, it might not all be doom and gloom, as a number of online tools and resources are at the beleaguered student's disposal.

From using Twitter to connect to industry professionals and job hunting through LinkedIn, securing the first step on a career ladder isn't restricted only to window advertisements or job agencies. Students may not be taking full advantage of this, however, as a new study suggests that very few complete basic steps, such as creating a LinkedIn profile.

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The report, The Student Career Development Study conducted by Gen Y research and consulting firm Millennial Branding, suggests that students are not being aggressive enough to raise their post-graduation prospects. In particular, 85 percent of the 200 American students surveyed said that internships after studying were important, but only a third are connected on LinkedIn -- a popular method for securing these opportunities.

52 percent of students hoped to secure at least three internships, but only 40 percent have completed an internship so far. The majority of internships were unpaid, but considered worth it for long-term prospects.

However, when it comes down to securing internships through a personal brand, students often fall short. Although Generation Y is considered more tech-savvy than their older counterparts, they do not appear to be taking advantage of online tools including social media, LinkedIn, business card design or personal websites and blogs.

College students are often active on social media, but only for personal purposes. 95 percent have an account on Facebook, and almost half have Twitter or Google+ accounts. However, only 34 percent have set up a LinkedIn profile. In an economy where jobs are scarce and every method needs to be employed, ignoring these free tools could cost students both internships and jobs -- especially when it takes no more than a search query to bring up job postings or internship opportunities.

Dean Tsouvalas, editor-in-chief of StudentAdvisor.com concluded:

"College students are missing out on a very valuable resource by not leveraging LinkedIn. Internship opportunities, and the ability to network alumni or gain incredible insight into a company, are all there, waiting for students to take advantage."

It is true that the point of college is to study, and not use the time just to find a job. However, students have to begin developing these skills while they have the chance, even more so as the West's economic future will remain blighted for some time to come.

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