Suggested Learning

Transforming your social footprint – why pharmacy students should utilise LinkedIn

 

“I wondered and I prayed and I Googled.” - Jennifer Lynn Barnes.


With Google being man’s modern “God” (Alexa coming in close second), students can attest to the fact that we have somewhat won the lottery with regards to the quick and easy state of web communication. Since the halcyon days of encyclopedias and dial up internet that have been drawn to a state of obsoletion social media has arguably taken the professional and business world by storm. It’s evident that the role of social media and digitisation plays a big role in our professional lives. As pharmacy students, it’s time to strategically utilize our social footprints for more than the average swipe through Instagram and tap into resources that can potentially develop our knowledge and awareness with regards to the pharmacy profession.


Our world is a communication tsunami
The unintended consequences of our digital culture have created ricochets of powerful opportunities to be splayed across the world destined to land in the hands of those who are actively utilising social media to their advantage. The world is buzzing with hives of connectivity and interaction where the courageous hunt for a great link to your desired industry is considered great social and possibly professional collateral. The flurry of the digital space has our attention spans in a tight fist and our mindsets darting from one tweet/notification/post to the next. The notion that social media is now a towering, formidable giant of the digital era proves true. Anyone and everyone nowadays has a social media footprint therefore the opportunity students have to strategize unique ways to transform their social footprint into an adequate springboard to land them in exciting career paths is not only a true possibility but is at finger's reach.


When it comes to social media, the pillars that create its foundation include are engagement, communication and collaboration The digital landscape of media in the social realm is quite fascinating because what once used to be the archaic times of handling heavy hardbacks and flipping through encyclopedia pages has now become virtually obsolete. Social media is now today’s golden rocket fuel for sharing content to the hungry Masses. Pharmacy is a healthcare profession where especially in the United Kingdom, the topic of representation and awareness plays a pivotal role in how the public gain information into why are our roles as imminent pharmacists are an integral component of healthcare. From public health campaigns to important pharmacy legislation laws and policies that promote the integral role of pharmacists in healthcare, social media is a tool that we can place a lot of effort to spread information that is palatable yet very much relatable and insightful to the public.


LinkedIn has proven to yield a wealth of information and resources. When it comes to the world of pharmacy, students may have preconceived notions about how big exactly the pharmacy world is. Truth be told, once you start to network with individuals you realise that it’s not as a big. LinkedIn may not be the most popular among its fellow companions (or rather competitors) such as Facebook and Twitter but nevertheless the pivotal role LinkedIn has played with regards to networking and professional development is hard to argue with. Pharmacy students have the opportunity to utilize their social footprint and tread through unique and exciting career prospects opportunities in pharmacy that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know otherwise.

Five Reasons why Pharmacy Students should utilise LinkedIn


It's out with the old and in with the new
A profile on LinkedIn will generally rank higher than a Google search. Recruiting/prospective employers will MOST DEFINITELY google you hence it’s imperative to create a good first impression. LinkedIn is the largest online platform where anyone with a phone/laptop etc can create an online resume for free in a matter of seconds. Gone are the days of paper CV’s and heaps of collated sheets with paragraphs for days restricted to a filing cabinet. The days of following the traditional “one page only” rule for a resume are now obsolete proving that professional online networking platforms such as LinkedIn employ a fresh and novel narrative to the concept of recruiting/hiring employees. LinkedIn employs the usage of the digital world which renders the debate about size irrelevant. How cool is that? LinkedIn is the world’s biggest global networking arena! The digital giant has managed to dip its tentacles into the world of career development and job opportunities. Recruiting and hiring managers view LinkedIn as a valuable tool to pick out the candidates they feel are well suited for the position.

Forget Facebook friends, employers are now looking at the number of LinkedIn contacts you have. With such a powerful stance in networking and career development, all students should take advantage of this booming platform.


You have the power to write your professional story – pick up your pen (or cursor rather) and start! Stand out, sell yourself, engage with posts and curate your content! LinkedIn embodies a moderate amount of ethical self-promotion. Utilise this platform to demonstrate how the skills you have acquired have enabled to envision yourself.

The skills section is a key element of a LinkedIn profile where students can list the skills they have accrued and are currently developing. Here, the endorsement of skills can increase the validation of said skills. Show your interests, make your brand uniquely you – portray what would make you

“employable”. Do you have a blog space where you discuss your experiences as a pharmacy student? Are you creating pharmacy content through media and film? Are you a public speaker at interprofessional education events? Are you a student ambassador for your pharmacy degree at your university?


If so, then that’s your chance to market those skills and sell yourself. Take that chance!

Any projects that you are involved in, scholarships/awards,organisations you’ve held office in/joined, placements/internships you’ve had the opportunity to experience and any volunteering groups and campaigns you’re a part of. Include it! You are your professional brand! As a student, this is a great mindset to adopt upon commencing the development of creating good professional contacts with the pharmacy networking sphere.


LinkedIn is a platform to acquire knowledge that may not be as readily available from common sources Professionalism is key and it exemplifies the awareness of appreciating that this specific online platform is professional – No selfies. Show that you are ready to work and that you can be considered “employable”.

Attending professional conferences, seminars and day talks/events as student is a great way to interact with several industry experts in a space of hours which is the perfect arena for one to engage and network. Aside from learning new information and getting acquainted to the up and coming trends and emerging topics to further help you understand your respective industry, showing your attendance of seminars on LinkedIn shows that you are consciously taking the time and effort to engage with and further expand your network opportunities. Reach out to an established figure in your desired field/career path for a meeting to chat about their experience.

Have fun but keep an eye out for what your online shadow may display


It’s not just about what you know but who you know
“Don’t necessarily keep your profile exclusive to your career. Everyone has potential with people they know." Connections with industries/companies of interest are the golden key. Your potential summer internship/placement could very well be situated in the lap of a future connection. Connections with alumni is another great tool for searching for potential associates that are alongside your career path. Be active – just like a muscle, keep moving it and it will be more likely to grow and adapt


The two R’s - a little research, big results
It’s a great start for student to start to adopt “detective” and really start to research and write down a list of companies that you can envision yourself working with. Read about what others have said about the organisation and what the hiring process is like – have any previous alumni been there before? Remember to keep your social footprint professional! Professionalism is key. Remember every day is essentially a "school day" but that doesn't mean it’s going to be boring!. Keep learning, keep creating/working towards your goals and keep growing and networking. Your LinkedIn is an extension of your professional development. Display your engagement in various activities e.g. volunteering, e-courses and training courses that you are doing alongside your studies. As with any facet of life, stagnancy is the antithesis of a productive, developing state where an individual is both willing and receptive to growing to new heights in their respective field and eager to develop new found skills and engage in their respective professional platform. Extend your social footprint to creating a canvas to a display your skill repertoire.

 


The “magic bean” of success is non-existent – time and active engagement will bring to fruition the fruits of your labour.

LinkedIn is a powerful multi-purpose tool. It is a job board, a learning resource, a portfolio, a research device, a professional forum to connect, a branding/marketing tool, a reference sheet and much more - however LinkedIn is also an underutilised resource. When used strategically, social media can be a powerful form of research and professional development. It is evident that social media is continuing to thrive and with platforms like LinkedIn, students can prove to be adaptable, professional and, most importantly, employable in the social global community of LinkedIn.


This article is written by Rhoda Denise Ekundayo

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