STEM students see the value of LinkedIn as a career development tool and continue to use it in the long-term post-assignment
AbstractSome empirical case studies provide support for using LinkedIn as a 21st century career development tool; however, little is known about the long-term impact on students’ use of LinkedIn. A LinkedIn assignment was implemented in a third-year subject taken by students in non-specialist science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees. The study aimed to determine: 1) Student use of LinkedIn prior to, and during the four months after the assignment was completed; 2) Student intentions to use LinkedIn as a career development tool in the long-term future; 3) Student perceptions of a LinkedIn assignment and associated employability skills; 4) Changes to students’ LinkedIn profiles and professional connections in the two years following completion of the assignment. Four months after the assignment, students completed an anonymous and voluntary questionnaire comprised of open-ended and Likert-scale questions. Descriptive statistical analysis was conducted on the Likert-scale responses and content analysis was conducted on the open-ended responses. Students’ LinkedIn profiles were analysed upon completion of the assignment and two years post-assignment to determine changes during this time. Students saw value in the assignment and LinkedIn as a career development tool, and many thought they had developed skills in building a connected identity and social network literacy. Students were less confident in their ability to build and engage with professional networks, although they thought this was important. Most students continued to use LinkedIn in the two years post-assignment. In conclusion, a LinkedIn assignment is an effective career development tool for students in non-specialist STEM degrees.
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