Cringeworthy connections: Students dish on their most bizarre LinkedIn encounters

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Lily Speredelozzi | Assistant Photo Editor

Students might know LinkedIn as the app where their classmates flex their internships and student organization titles, but others have had run-ins that stretch the bounds of the networking site

While most use LinkedIn to secure that ever-elusive summer internship, several GW students have had some shockingly unprofessional encounters on the employment-centered platform.

Students might know LinkedIn as the app where their Elliott classmates flex their internships, but others have had run-ins that stretch the bounds of the networking site. From disturbing declarations of love to sketchy sponsorship deals, we spoke to students about their wildest stories on the app known for job postings and braggadocious employment updates.

Businessman by day, nauseating poet by night
Victoria Robertson, a senior majoring in international affairs, said a man in his mid-30s who worked for an energy innovation corporation viewed her LinkedIn page and proceeded to ask her out on a date through her GW email account which she unknowingly had included in her profile.

“I got the email, and I was freaked out because I didn’t realize that you could get someone’s email off of LinkedIn,” Robertson said.

In a somewhat incoherent two-paragraph message, the man tried to dish out some poetry.

“I do believe everything is possible if we put our mind and heart together, just like I believe that good things can be found in the least places and when we least expect,” the email states.

Robertson said the man attached a series of casual selfies in the email, particularly disturbing her. She said the photos had the makings of a Tinder profile, complete with a photo of him posing in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

In the email, the man said multiple times he realized it was unprofessional to message her through the site, breaching the unwritten business-only rules of LinkedIn.

“The fact that he starts off with ‘I know that this is an invasion of your privacy,’ it felt like he felt as though he was entitled to talking to me, even though he knew it was wrong,” she said.

Robertson blocked him on LinkedIn immediately after seeing the email. She said the encounter, along with the fake humility people present in their profiles, has cemented LinkedIn as the worst social media platform in her eyes.

“It was just another reminder that as a woman, the internet is just a cesspool no matter where you are and that people even presenting themselves professionally can still behave inappropriately,” she said.

Separation between church and LinkedIn
Kate Carpenter, a senior majoring in political communication, had a similar off-putting experience with an older man while using LinkedIn.

When she was a junior in high school, Carpenter said she was playing tennis with a group of friends and noticed a man standing by himself on the court, so she asked him to join. Carpenter invited the man to go to church with her after the game ended, and they exchanged email addresses so they could discuss their thoughts on religion.

His messages about faith slowly turned into expressions of romantic interest in her. Naturally, Carpenter found this email “horrifying” and ignored it, only for him to follow up a week later.

“A week later, he responds to our original email chain like nothing had ever happened and asked me what I believed about Mary, the mother of Jesus,” Carpenter said.

Three years later, after searching to find his current whereabouts on LinkedIn, she discovered he had moved from Oklahoma to London.

“I was wondering ‘What is this guy up to – is he okay?’” Carpenter said. “Did I drive him to move away, or have I caused mass destruction in his life – let me check in on him.”

As an active user of LinkedIn, Carpenter sent him a request without thinking too deeply about their history. After he accepted and sent a message asking if she wanted a romantic relationship with him, she immediately disconnected with him on the platform.

Carpenter said this experience taught her the importance of guarding herself on social media, and she continues to use the app with caution to help grow her network.

“I’m still so pro-LinkedIn,” Carpenter said. “I’ve been able to expand my network, keep in touch with so many people at GW. Beyond GW, I’ve even helped grow my personal business.”

LinkedIn and chill
A junior majoring in political communication described herself as a casual LinkedIn user, but her relationship with the app entered a new level of intimacy when she accepted a Bumble hookup’s connection request while they were naked in bed together in 2021.

After their hookup, they began discussing internships when she mentioned she had applied for a job at a company where his friend coincidentally worked. Before they even got dressed, he offered to send his friend’s number to help them connect.

“I just jokingly asked ‘Oh, what’s your LinkedIn?’” she said, laughing. “And then he actually pulled out his phone.”

She said the hookup was a data analyst who flexed his career in his Instagram bio, where he dubbed himself “NPR referenced.” Despite acknowledging the pair had no romantic future, she still connected with him on LinkedIn to gain exposure to a wider network of connections.

“I’ve overheard many people in the city say even if a date goes poorly, you can still add them on LinkedIn, and you’re growing your network,” she said.

A sketchier-than-usual sponsorship
Cameron Cayer, a senior majoring in international affairs and a Hatchet reporter, filled out an internship application that he thought was a scam on the platform in a joking manner, but it resulted in a full-fledged sponsorship deal.

“I actually got a DM from an account over the summer, and it said ‘How would you feel about getting free technology and monthly pay for a remote job, and all you have to do is post on Instagram?’” Cayer said.

Despite his skepticism about the seemingly too-good-to-be-true offer, Cayer had applied for what turned out to be a legitimate sponsorship deal with Samsung, which agreed to send him new devices for him to advertise the products on social media in return.

He said this sponsorship deal helped him realize some risky LinkedIn job offers are worth taking after his hesitation to apply could have cost him this once-in-a-blue-moon gig.

“So, my advice is, have a judgmental eye because sometimes they are scams but then other times it can be an opportunity,” he said.

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