One Enterprising Student’s Use of Social Media in Quest for Summer Internship

Nicolette Weinbaum chronicled her journey in a video blog, which LinkedIn featured on its website.


06.26.13 VILLANOVA, Pa. – Over Villanova University’s spring break in March, freshman Nicolette Weinbaum ’16 LAS (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) began thinking about how she wanted to spend her summer. “I knew I could go back to lifeguarding at home,” Nicolette said. “But, I know how competitive the job market will be when I graduate in three years, so I decided to focus on obtaining an internship that would combine my interests in finance and marketing.”

The challenge for first-year students like Nicolette is that most companies often prefer to allocate prized internship opportunities to upperclassmen.  

Determined to overcome this hurdle, Nicolette decided that the best course of action was to tap into the ‘Nova Nation – the fiercely-loyal and wide-ranging Villanova alumni network. She had met Villanova alumni at various events, and always came away impressed with how passionate they were about the University and helping fellow Villanovans. But how could she connect with this network in the most effective way possible? 

Then it came to her. As a savvy user of social media, Nicolette thought: “Why not create a LinkedIn ad campaign about my search for an internship?” 

Nicolette budgeted a modest $200 saved from her previous summer’s lifeguarding job to create a LinkedIn ad campaign that she titled, “Advertisements for Myself.”   

“The first order of business was to immerse myself in all the jargon of advertising on social media platforms,” she recalled.  “Things like ‘click-through rates,’ CPCs, conversion tracking … It was actually a terrific adventure, learning about digital marketing in the new millennium.” 

According to Nicolette, the most impressive feature of marketing through social media is the ability to narrow your audience and tailor your ad campaign to those who are likely to be more receptive to the pitch. “Traditional forms of media such as television and radio are all about broadcasting a message to as many people as possible.  New media platforms like LinkedIn permit the user to narrowcast and really zero in on your true target audience on a very cost-effective basis.” 

Using specific filters on her ad campaign, the freshman narrowed LinkedIn’s 225 million users down to an audience of just 14,781 individuals – all of whom were Villanova alumni from New York and Pennsylvania working in her specific fields of interest.  The ad that popped up for those specific alumni using LinkedIn during the month of March informed them that a 'driven, accomplished, dynamic and creative undergrad' at Villanova was seeking an internship. When a user clicked on the ad, Nicolette’s blog (NicolettePost.com) popped up containing her internship pitch.

So, how did Nicolette do with her “Advertisements for Myself” campaign? 

“I wasn’t fully prepared for the reaction I got from the ‘Nova Nation,” she admitted. 

From the first day it ran, Nicolette began getting encouraging emails from Villanova alumni commending her creativity and determination, and asking for a copy of her resume. She raced over to the Villanova Career Center, which assisted not only in helping the freshman develop a formal resume, but also improve her LinkedIn profile to beef up the areas potential employers value most. 

Over the next several weeks, her ad campaign was so effective that its click-through rate was more than 20 times higher than the average ad campaign on LinkedIn (0.525% versus 0.025%).   This statistic got her noticed by executives at LinkedIn’s San Francisco headquarters, who sent a tweet out publicizing her clever ad campaign.  They invited her to submit a blog about her experience and gave her an additional $200 credit to double the budget for her campaign. 

By the time the campaign came to an end, Nicolette’s ad had been viewed more than 120,000 times. An estimated 48.4 percent of those who clicked on her ad were senior executives. Nicolette was contacted by dozens of Villanova alumni from firms such as Citigroup, ThomsonReuters, New York Stock Exchange, and MasterCard.

After several interviews and offers, the freshman accepted an internship with Edulence, a digital media technology and custom creative services in Manhattan whose president, Jon Tota was a member of the Class of 1994.  Several weeks into the job, Nicolette is thrilled to have such a dynamic opportunity for the summer before her sophomore year.

Naturally, she wholeheartedly endorses the power of social media. “Using social media with an innovative and targeted approach can be a truly powerful way to stand out in a highly-competitive crowd.”

Combining a little ingenuity, a modest LinkedIn campaign budget, and “some wonderfully loyal alumni out there in the ‘Nova Nation,” Nicolette Weinbaum wound up with a high-level internship that will bring her invaluable real world experience.