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Using Social Networking to Kickstart Your Career

Yahoo Inc. has unfurled a professional social network to help college students and recent graduates kickstart their careers.

According to a blog-post by Scott Gatz, Yahoo’s senior director of advanced products:

Y! Kickstart is a professional network with a specific purpose: to connect college students, recent grads, alums and professionals to find jobs, internships and career advice.

It’s based on the premise that everyone does have a network: the school you went to, the frat/sorority you were in, the professional/interest group you are in, the companies you interned or worked at. Kickstart makes it easy to create and browse that kind of network. While we started with a focus on college students, I’ve already found it a useful networking tool for me to catch up with old coworkers and fellow alums.

But how is this new tool different from Facebook or LinkedIn, and can it really boost your career?

A Closer Look

Based on several blog-writeups (TechCrunch, CNET, LifeHacker) about Kickstart, it's more like LinkedIn than Facebook: the focus is on careers and professional networking rather than your friends' latest photos or interests.

I use Facebook and LinkedIn, and I recognize the merits of both. After signing up for a Kickstart account and exploring the service, I agree with other bloggers--it could prove useful to 20-somethings just starting out and looking to build a professional network.

As a story on Computerworld points out, Kickstart tries to tap into Generation Y's social-networking skills--acquired in college for fun--and use them for professional advancement. Several of my sources have said Gen Yers tend to have sterling networking skills--if Kickstart can harness and exploit those skills for Millennials' career-gains, all the better.

But for those who have been working for a while--Generation X, for example--Kickstart is more likely a place to reconnect with old college chums. Gen X is better off sticking with LinkedIn for professional networking.

What Other Bloggers Are Saying

A post on the TechCrunch blog by Michael Arrington says:

While immediate analogies will be drawn to Facebook, the service is actually much more like LinkedIn in that it connects students and alumni at specific colleges and universities and helps them connect on a professional level. Alumni can help students get jobs (or can find good students to fill spots at whatever company they work at), and students can reach out to others to help jumpstart their professional career. ...

... this clearly isn’t a place for pictures of partying and drinking - the whole point is to build up a professional network to help you move your career along. For young students just getting out of college this can be a very useful service. And they can keep having fun on Facebook…while pointing potential professional contacts to their Kickstart profiles.

Yesterday we covered a number of startups that are trying to recreate the college-only magic of Facebook. Kickstart isn’t one of those services, but college students may be flocking to it nonetheless.

According to a post on Wired:

Naturally, the big question remains the same -- what about LinkedIn? In an interview with CNet, Scott Gatz, Yahoo's Senior Director of the Advanced Products Division, said that networking sites like LinkedIn are designed for users with matured professional networks. "LinkedIn doesn't cross the minds of college students," Gatz explained. "[Kickstart is] a professional network with a purpose--to help college students and recent graduates build a professional network."

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