It’s that time of year again. Inbox stacked high with rejection emails, interviews that fall flat, and LinkedIn’s home feed is not making me feel any better.
I remember what life was like before my LinkedIn started badgering my inbox. I could quietly apply for whatever program or job I was interested in without caring what other people were doing. Now, I get to see post after post of someone who is “so excited and proud to announce” their spectacular summer plans. Oh, and by the way, everyone from high school also just made the Dean’s List at their T10 school, are doing two internships this coming semester while overloading on classes, and figured out today’s Wordle in one try (maybe one day…).
I’m not saying it’s a terrible thing to be proud of yourself. There’s a side to LinkedIn filled with people who are genuinely sharing things they are working on because they are interested and excited. LinkedIn can be a powerful way for individuals to gain recognition that they deserve. Women in particular are told that sharing their accomplishments is not a humble thing to do, while a lot of men are emboldened to parade their accomplishments so loudly that the contributions of women and other workforce minorities go unnoticed. But unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t solve the problem–I see it firsthand from peers who don’t want to post for fear of coming across as boastful for a post that is completely normal. Or from my best friend telling me he loved LinkedIn because it offered him the “ultimate flex network” (I may have reacted poorly to that statement).
It had good intentions. Help people find jobs by connecting with people from anywhere–no need to walk through job fair after job fair. On the surface, there’s no way it could be as toxic as Insta or Facebook–it’s just a site to help people find success in a way that is meaningful to them. It’s not like I would be able to check if that one person saw my story, or worry about reaching the perfect feed aesthetic. But it’s increasingly turned into a place that just feels like an unnecessary bragging competition. And I simply think that notifying me that my ex-boss’s daughter’s dog had the best walk of their life and will probably go on to win an international Dog Show crosses the line.
If you’ve also found yourself feeling burnt out from professional pressure, here are some tips on how to avoid discouraging scrolls through “I’m happy to announce” posts:
- Stop the comparison
Just because you think someone is smarter than you (or less smart than you) and they are getting offers doesn’t mean that you are any less worthy of a job than them. You have your own strengths and unique combination of perspectives that no one else has. Stop worrying about the prestige of the company that your classmate is going to work for and keep both feet on the ground. There are so many factors that go into recruiting, and there is a company that’s the right fit.
- Focus on yourself
At least for me, it’s hard to stay hopeful when I feel like everyone around me is able to juggle classes, recruiting, and a social life perfectly. I’ve found that something that helps me avoid believing the myth of effortless perfection is to focus on developing myself. Instead of focusing on what other people are doing this summer, take ownership of your path. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes–take whatever time you need to reach out to people doing things you’re interested in. I get scared of “bothering” people when I do this, but I’ve found that they are more flattered than anything when you ask for help.
- Don’t trust the process…
…because the process can be entirely arbitrary at times. Not trusting the process doesn’t mean giving up or losing hope–it means that you hold your worth outside of the process–to trust yourself over people who only know you by a piece of paper and a short interview. And if you don’t get any position? It’s not the end of the world. Your life will not be derailed by 10 weeks spent working on yourself or on a personal project instead of an internship. In fact, you may come out better than you would have from any corporate setting.
The LinkedIn bubble can make you feel like everyone around you is succeeding and has a straightforward path to reaching their goals. But everyone starts somewhere, even if not where they expect. Take a deep breath, or take some time away if you need–but don’t give up on yourself.