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Kudos to you! The cult of LinkedIn

The devil works hard, but high-achievers at Cambridge work harder


When I arrived at Cambridge I was warned about the dangers of imposter syndrome. My guard was up, and I was on high alert for snarky supervisors, superiority complexes and students that have swallowed dictionaries (not everything is a neo-something dichotomy). Naively, I assumed these were the main perpetrators of imposter syndrome. 

I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

It all started when I downloaded LinkedIn, and added a profile picture and ‘Undergraduate at the University of Cambridge’ to my bio. It began innocently, with just adding a volunteering experience (netball coaching if you were interested) but then I began to spiral. Before I knew what was happening I was commenting ‘Congrats!’, requesting to connect and stalking profiles.

#Girlbossing (Image credits: author’s own screenshot)

Scrolling on LinkedIn made me more insecure than any model on Instagram could, as I realised I was the worst thing any Cambridge student could ever be. I was average (nooooooooo please nooooo).  How can I possibly compete with a student who has 8 A levels (all A*, naturally), a knighthood, a Nobel Peace prize and an Olympic gold medal? 

https://twitter.com/bimouette/status/1666829794737025024

LinkedIn, at its worst, induces existential dread, and at its best, is intensely annoying.

I would argue that the most annoying thing about LinkedIn is the posts. This is not X-Factor. I do not need a sob story of all the obstacles you have overcome and a list of people who have inspired you in your grand journey to the destination of Ents officer for a society of 15 active members. I get it though. University is more and more becoming to be seen as an investment, and in a society where the value of your degree is measured by starting salary, pretending to be a 35-year-old corporate finance bro on LinkedIn becomes a rational choice. I don’t hate the players, I hate the game. 

There are times though when LinkedIn moves beyond annoying to actively stressful. I feel so unprepared for my future and feel like I’ve somehow fallen behind when a scroll on LinkedIn reminds me I haven’t yet solved world hunger or secured a summer internship at an ethically questionable investment firm.  In reality, however, I remind myself that university isn’t one big networking event. I am 19 – I don’t need a ‘personal brand’ or a Pinterest board of pantsuits. I am allowed to use my time at university to enjoy reading, meet new people, go clubbing, moan about the clubbing (Manchester > Cambridge), attend formals and make mistakes at C-Sunday.

Networking hard xx (Image credits: Sophie Tallon)

LinkedIn has definitely been an app I now try to avoid, but also an app that I annoyingly feel obliged to use (and not in a fun way like my TikTok addiction). For people like myself without extensive networks and connections, LinkedIn seems like a good app to utilise and I completely get why people take advantage of it. But, just like with any social media, you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone you see.

If you are, however, thinking about becoming really successful, rich, or famous, don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn @SophieTallon.

Kudos to you!