LinkedIn Wants College Students to ‘Swipe’ Through Their Career Exploration

April 18, 2016, 4:03 AM UTC
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg / Getty Images

LinkedIn is going after college students with its newest mobile app.

On Monday, the social network professionals will release an entirely new and separate mobile app, on iOS and Android, aimed at college students to help them get their first job graduation, as the company describes it. LinkedIn hopes that the app, now available nation-wide, will help students explore possible careers, expand their professional network, and browse through appropriate job listings.

“They don’t know what to search for, they don’t know what they’re qualified to do, or even what’s out there,” LinkedIn product manager Ada Yu, who led the development of the app, told Fortune.

Not surprisingly, the app’s design borrows heavily from apps popular among young adults like Tinder. When a student opens the app, LinkedIn serves up five items for them to review on that day. First, there’s a career suggestion based on their college and major. Then there’s a recommended article about career-related topics, followed by a company that often recruits from their college, and then a few suggestions of jobs that alumni with similar majors from their college have pursued. Lastly, the app suggests an actual job listing the student might be interested in.

And for those overachieving students (or those in a real panic over their post-college fate), the app offers an “extra credit” option at the end that lets them swipe through more of these suggestions and input more information about themselves such as their interests, goals, careers that interest them, and so on.

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It doesn’t, however, integrate with, the online learning company it acquired for $1.5 billion last year, that could help students pick up extra skills for the jobs and professions they discover through the app.

LinkedIn says it’s quietly made the app available a few months ago and a total of 1,500 students across 300 colleges. It has also run pilot programs, with San Jose State University, and the University of Central Florida, that included week-long studies with small groups of students at each school. According Yu, the students’ feedback was generally positive, with many of them saying they enjoyed the app’s snackable approach to the job search.

LinkedIn plans to partner with schools and their own job boards so it can feed appropriate job listings from them to students on the app, along with the listings posted on LinkedIn. It’s currently working on implementing this with a couple of schools.

With that said, the app seems to put a heavy emphasis on the student’s major when suggesting potential careers or jobs, the old “major=career” way of thinking. The app uses the student’s college and major as its main data point for suggestions until and unless he or she adds more details in the extra credit section.

While this may be a good starting point in some cases, it’s increasingly not a helpful strategy, especially in the case of liberal arts students. Surely most philosophy majors don’t intend to become philosophers for a living. Most likely, they’re involved in other, more “practical,” activities and internships outside the classroom that more closely match the jobs and careers they’re interested in pursuing after college. Even in the case of professions like law or medicine, which require graduate degrees to practice, not all lawyers and doctors picked the stereotypical political science and biology majors for their undergraduate studies.

Still, Yu maintains that it’s only a starting point and one that makes it easy for students to jumpstart their job search.

With the release of the new app, LinkedIn is also beginning to phase out many of its current features and content for students, starting with some of the features geared toward high school students to help them with the college search.

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