LinkedIn logo on a wall with fake tree in front of it

LinkedIn is the world's most popular professional social media network with more than 500 million users, 26 million companies and 15 million job postings. It's a powerful tool for students who are preparing to graduate and start the next exciting chapter of their lives. But did you know that LinkedIn also hires for jobs and internships in engineering, sales, marketing, legal, finance and more? 

CU Boulder alumna Chelsea Hartling (Communication, '11) has worked at LinkedIn for nearly three years and attributes her success to her education and, of course, her stellar LinkedIn profile. Read on for Hartling's advice on landing a job in social media. 

What is your role at LinkedIn and what do you enjoy most about what you do?

My role at LinkedIn is a “Client Solutions Manager” (which is the industry way of saying I’m an Account Manager) on our Marketing Solutions team. The role itself is focused on helping my clients with their marketing efforts on LinkedIn, providing them with guidance and day-to-day support, and helping them be as successful as possible in their marketing initiatives. What I enjoy most about it is building relationships with the people I work with, both internally and externally. It’s so important to work in an environment that makes you feel happy on a daily basis because ultimately, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

LinkedIn is a big-name company! To what do you attribute your success in getting hired there? How did you make it happen?

I attribute a lot of my success to my very first job working at a social media agency. When I graduated college, we (as in, THE WORLD) were just scratching the surface of what the potential of social media even looked like, so you can imagine I learned and experienced a TON. It also helped me identify a HUGE career goal of mine: to work for one of the big-name social platforms. So when the opportunity to work at LinkedIn came up, I jumped at the chance and did everything I could to get there - long nights studying the company’s mission and values, prepping for interviews, working with career counselors, and of course, making sure my LinkedIn profile was the best they’d ever seen (you’d be surprised how many people viewed my profile during the interview process!).

How does LinkedIn define their culture and work environment? What is it like to work there?

LinkedIn is an amazing company to work for, and I honestly can’t say enough great things about it. They live and breathe by their #1 core value, "Members First," so as a company we are constantly focused on making sure as our platform evolves, it’s a great experience for our members. Likewise, they treat their employees the same way. They’ve somehow managed to maintain somewhat of a start-up feel, while also being a tech giant within the industry. Our leadership team is extremely focused on making sure LinkedIn is an equal opportunity space for everyone - putting a huge focus on diversity, inclusion, and belonging as well as closing the male-to-female ratio of our leadership roles. They are so committed to that mission which is just one of the many things I appreciate so much about working for this company (and the free lunches don’t hurt either!).

What did you study at CU Boulder and how did your degree help you on your career path?

After hopping around from major to major for a while, I finally landed on Communication and instantly fell in love with the very first comms class I took - I just knew it was right for me. It’s broad enough to give you endless career options and also gives you the opportunity to explore so many different avenues. I also received a certificate in Technology, Arts, and Media which was brand new to CU when I started the program as a senior. I was lucky enough to be enrolled in the very first “Digital Media 101” class, where we learned about this new exciting thing called “social media” and I. was. hooked! That class is definitely what drove my desire to use my degree to work in this industry that was super up-and-coming at the time. (Had I had more time, I definitely would have at LEAST minored in TAM!)

What should students who want careers in social media concentrate on outside of the classroom?

Definitely having an active presence on all the bigger social channels, and following a variety of brands in different industries to observe what they’re doing within the space. What kind of content are they putting out? Who is doing a great job and who could improve? What brands capitalized well during a real-time marketing situation, and which brands missed the mark? Staying on top of trends and industry news has always been a major part of my job as well.

Did you have an internship while you were a student at CU Boulder? How important was it for your professional development?

I did a summer internship with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Las Vegas. It was actually a Public Relations internship, but through that avenue, I met a lot of “media” folks who were reporting on the sport via social. It was an incredible experience and so important to my professional development because ultimately it allowed me to make a lot of connections within the social media industry, and also identify that while working in PR was fun and exciting, social media was what I was really drawn to. Plus, it never hurts to have a big name like the UFC on your resume! (Or should I say, your LinkedIn profile.)

What are the top three things students should know about working in the tech/social media industry? 

  1. It's constantly changing and evolving so you have to be flexible and open to constant change.
  2. It never stops. Social media is a 24/7, always-on industry, and sometimes a crisis or real-time opportunity (think: the Super Bowl, for example) will happen after normal working hours or on the weekend that you might have to step in and manage for your clients.
  3. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun! Because it’s ever-changing, there is SO much opportunity to do really cool, innovative things within the space. 

What impresses LinkedIn employers the most when considering hiring a student for a job or internship? What would make someone stand out positively?

Having a rockstar LinkedIn profile! You’d be surprised how far having a creative headline can go during the interview process. Showcasing your unique personality and samples of your best work on your profile is another great way to get their attention. Don’t be shy when it comes to touting your experience and accomplishments!

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you go back and give yourself as a college student at CU Boulder preparing for your career?

Your connections are everything. Use them! Some people will have a job lined up immediately after graduation, but sometimes (like in my case) it takes a little bit of time to not only land a job but to find the right fit. It can be easy to get discouraged, but stay the course and keep your eyes on the prize. Also, read the book “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero. It’ll give you a nice boost of confidence while you’re starting your career. Trust me.