Today I wanted to add a former professor to my LinkedIn network, but LinkedIn does not offer any relationship options that cover professor/student relations. I could have chosen “other,” but it wanted me to put in my professor’s email address. We still correspond, but not through email. I would have just put in his Grinnell email address, but he has two, and I was feeling obstinate and didn’t want to play guessing games in order to prove to LinkedIn I have a legitimate reason to add a former professor to my network. So then I got annoyed.
Admittedly, that is probably more my stubborn side that kicks in when technology thwarts my wishes than some kind of legitimate gripe, but still. It seems unnecessary. I mean, I have a “classmate” option which I could use to add any of the 40,000 current IU students and thousands more alumni without any further barrier. Why shouldn’t I be able to tell linkedin I want to add a professor from my school? Given that an important linkedin function is getting recommendations, and professors write various kinds of recommendations and references for their students all the time, you’d think this would be an obvious thing for recent graduates to do, and I’d like to see some support for it. Maybe linkedin disagrees, and they think that meaningful professor/student relationships are rare enough that it’s ok for then to fall into “other.”
I suppose as a graduate of a small liberal arts school with a strong focus on teaching and a faculty that is on the whole extremely open to interaction with students and encouraging student success, I may be unusual in the number of meaningful faculty relationships I have. But my needs are important and LinkedIn should cater to them, goshdarnit!
Anyway I ended up choosing “colleague,” which is sort of legitimate since I worked as a TA for the computer science department and also on a summer research project that related to this professor’s work. Now of course I just have to wait and see if he considers me worthy of acceptance.