Network! Network! Network! …But How?

Everyone talks about how important it is to build your professional network to advance in your career, but getting started can feel awkward or intimidating.

If that feeling is holding you back, remember that networking is just another form of relationship building–a process rooted in genuine curiosity and a desire to get to know the other person well. To begin:

    • Think about what you’re interested in talking about or who you might want to learn from or share your aspirations with. You can start the conversation with those you know, such as your peers, professors, mentors, current and past co-workers, and field supervisors. They may even recommend others to reach out to.
    • At the same time, don’t be afraid to cold contact those you don’t yet know. Online networking platforms liked LinkedIn make it easier to connect with others, particularly those within your school network, such as CSSW’s LinkedIn Group, and other interest-based communities.
    • Don’t limit yourself to “networking” platforms and events either. Any opportunity where you can engage with others with shared interests and goals, including social and community events, volunteer activities, and online forums, is a prime way to bridge a new connection.

Whomever you choose to connect with, make sure that the engagement isn’t one-sided or transactional. Just like in any meaningful relationship, even if you’re the one asking for insights and advice, you can demonstrate your respect and appreciation by letting them know how their support impacted you or sharing information and resources that may be of benefit to them.

For additional tips on cultivating a strong network, review this article. You can also find additional tools for networking in this virtual networking guide.

Tips for First-Generation Job Seekers

In honor of First-Generation College Student Day celebrated yesterday, we would like to a give special shout-out to our first-generation students and alumni who are continuing to blaze a trail for themselves, their families, and communities and making their mark in the field of social work!

If you are currently pursuing opportunities as early career professionals or seeking to advance to leadership roles, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

    • Know that you have a lot to offer. Start by embracing the knowledge and strengths you’ve built. Your resourcefulness, determination to succeed, and ability to both navigate uncertainty and complex systems and adapt to changing needs are all qualities that employers highly value. Keep a record of your unique skills and accomplishments and practice sharing them with others so you can feel confident conveying them to prospective employers.
    • Build a support system. A healthy support system can offer validation and a safe space to bounce off ideas and concerns. Continue investing time in developing your trusted community of mentors, professionals, former supervisors, peers, faculty, and college administrators who can share resources, information, and potential access to opportunities. To find community on campus, check out the events hosted by the Graduate Initiative through University Life and reach out to the student leaders of the CSSW’s First Generation Lower SES Caucus.
    • Be proactive in seeking resources. Continue to use resources inside and outside of Columbia to increase your knowledge around job searching, networking, negotiating salary, and advancing in the workforce. For instance, you can learn about the unspoken rules of the workplace and how to get ahead in your career from this HBR IdeaCast episode, Career Rules You Didn’t Learn in School, take a self-paced salary negotiation program with AAUW online, or attend the National Urban League’s professional development webinars. You can also participate in networking and leadership development activities through professional organizations such as the Network for Social Work Management. Links to similar resources are also readily featured in our enews, blog, and Career Connect resource library.

Students and alums are always welcome to meet with us for individual career consultations. Learn more about what’s available to you here.

4th Annual Communities of Color Virtual Networking Event | Thursday, October 28

virtual meeting image
Image by Alexandra Koch from Pixabay

The offices of Career Services and Leadership Management; Development and Alumni Relations; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are pleased to invite students to our 4th Annual Communities of Color Virtual Networking Event on Thursday, October 28.

All those who identify as students of color/BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are encouraged to participate!

This is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with a group of distinguished alumni of color, learn about their career paths and trajectories, and get tips and advice on navigating your own path as a professional of color in a dedicated virtual support space.

The list of featured alumni can be found below.

Event Details

Thursday, October 28
6:30 – 8:00 pm ET
Platform: Zoom

Pre-registration is required.

Sign up here using your LionMail account by Tuesday, October 26. We ask that you only register if you are able to attend.


FEATURED ALUMNI

Read more about our participating alumni.

Networking with Professors

As highlighted in an article by Live Career, “learning how to connect with your peers, professors, and community is crucial for both personal and professional development”.

Professors, in particular, are invaluable resources from whom you can learn more about different areas of interest and opportunities within the field.

Wondering how to best connect with them beyond the classroom? Here are a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re just starting the program or continuing:

    • Research your professors to get a better sense of their background, interests, and achievements
    • When reaching out to schedule a meeting, provide a very brief overview of your goals and interests and why you want to meet (e.g. what you hope to learn)
    • Make the most of the time you have with them by coming prepared with targeted questions
    • In all your interactions, whether virtual or in-person, be open, sincere, and mindful of how you communicate
    • Ask for feedback and keep them updated on any developments, especially if you’ve followed through on any advice they gave you

Professors will likely be more receptive to your outreach while you’re a student, so be sure to take advantage of the opportunity before you graduate. This also applies to building relationships with peers, supervisors, and administrators. Investing in this effort will not only help you stand out and stay memorable, but it can also potentially open doors for years to come!

Building Your Career Path

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or thinking about making a move, following a plan will help you move forward and help you get to where you want to be. This article by the Wall Street Journal offers 3 easy steps to help you get started with forging your career path:

    • Engage in self-reflective activities to help identify your core values and strengths – consider what lifestyle is most important to you, what attributes have remained constant, and what expertise you’ve developed over the course of your academic and professional life
    • Seek trusted advice from mentors and professionals in your field to learn from their career paths, discuss your career goals, and/or tap into their professional expertise to learn about the industry
    • Identify and develop the key skills and knowledge most in-demand within the areas you are interested in and be able to articulate how you can contribute to potential employers

Still need advice on how to get started? Schedule an appointment to meet with a career advisor or check out the career guides and resources posted in our Document Library within Career Connect.

Lead with Curiosity When Networking

The idea of networking can be anxiety-provoking for many, no matter what career stage they’re in, leading some to avoid it. Yet, it still remains the number one strategy to land opportunities and an essential component of one’s career development.

Networking is more than talking to strangers; it is a process of building relationships towards a mutual exchange of support, resources, and information. It is also a way of letting others know your skills and passions and getting noticed in the field. (You can’t get noticed if people don’t know you!)

Not sure how to get started? Then lead with your curiosity.

Perhaps you’re wondering what you can do with your degree or concentration or how others with similar backgrounds and experiences landed their roles. Or maybe you’re still exploring and want to know different opportunities you might find meaningful. Find people with direct knowledge of your interest area and start a conversation:

    • Faculty, supervisors and colleagues in field, peers, and alumni currently working in your field of interest
    • Professionals you admire regardless of their background whom you can connect with through industry events, professional associations, or virtual networking communities, such as those on LinkedIn
    • Recruiters, hiring managers, and organizational representatives hosting information sessions and related recruitment and networking activities

Don’t forget that professionals outside your immediate scope of interest can also possess valuable insights, including how to effectively transition from student to professional, advance to leadership positions, or maintain work-life balance and self-care.

Whomever you choose to reach out to, make sure to tailor your conversation to the individual and assess what specifically you hope to learn from them so you can identify your next steps.

If the idea of networking and informational interviewing still feels intimidating, remember that you don’t need to know everything to have a fruitful conversation. Asking questions like “How do I get started?” or “Where do I go from here?” are acceptable conversation starters, particularly with social work educators and alumni. The main goal is to start somewhere!

More on networking for social workers

Upcoming NYC Government Career Events Hosted by DCAS

New York City Civil Service 101
Friday, March 19, 2021 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm

To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/0319CS101

For more information contact: Shannon Foley [email protected]


CityTalk Panel Discussion: “Women in City Government”
Friday, March 26, 2021 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/0326WomenCareers

For more information contact: Raymond Cruze, Citywide Recruitment Specialist [email protected]

Flash mentoring is back – Sign up to get career advice and support from alumni!

The Office of Alumni Relations and Office of Career Services and Leadership Management are pleased to resume our career mentorship program for the spring semester!

The program will run from Monday, February 1 through Friday, May 28. Requests will be accepted until Friday, May 14.

 

Mentoring Program Overview

Through this program, students can request to connect with up to 3 alums per month for 1:1 conversations to:

    • Gain insights and perspectives about a career path, field, organization, or industry;
    • Get advice about career planning, searching and applying for jobs (including resume writing), networking, interviewing, or navigating life after CSSW; OR
    • Seek support in general from someone who’s been in your shoes as a student

Interested?

    1. Fill out this mentoring program interest form. On the form, you will find a link to a directory with a list of more than 300 alumni volunteer mentors who are eager to meet you! Select the one you’re interested in meeting. Note that you will have to complete this form for each request.
    2. After submitting the form, you will receive an email confirmation as well as an introductory email from Jennifer March from Alumni Relations connecting you to the alum of choice within a few business days. If you don’t hear from Jennifer in that time frame, please email her directly at [email protected] to follow up.
    3. Once you receive the email, it will be your responsibility to arrange a meeting directly with the alum using the contact information provided. While Zoom meetings are recommended, you can choose a platform that works best for both you and the alum.

Remember: This is NOT a forum to ask for a job or a recommendation for a job, but rather an opportunity to gather valuable information based on their knowledge and expertise.

After the initial meeting, it will be up to you and the alum to decide whether to continue to stay in touch.

Questions?

For general questions about our alumni mentors, please email Jennifer March at [email protected].

For guidance on how to prepare for a meeting, refer to our Informational Interview Guide. You can also view free, on-demand webinars on informational interviewing (and other career development topics) from LinkedIn Learning, or schedule an appointment with the career team to discuss further.

We hope you take advantage of this special opportunity!

Making the Most of Virtual Recruitment Events

Want to learn about organizations seeking your talent? During the spring term, a number of employers will be hosting recruitment and information sessions on opportunities for graduating students and alumni.

Take advantage of these events to connect with recruiters and hiring managers, learn about their organization, gain insight into what they’re looking for in candidates, and enhance your chances of landing a job!

Here are some tips to make the most of the events and to stand out:

    • Research the organization beforehand to get a sense of their services, impact, and the communities they serve.
    • Be prepared to share a quick introduction about your interests, strengths, and career goals.
    • Present your best self to make a strong first impression by following good video meeting etiquette, which includes keeping an appropriate background and dressing for the workplace (i.e. no pajamas!)
    • Prepare and ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your knowledge, interest, and curiosity to learn more about their organization, values, and culture. You can also inquire about opportunities for growth, training, and professional development, as well as transferable skills they value, especially if you are a career changer or don’t yet meet certain requirements.
    • Have an updated resume readily available. Some employers ask for resumes before or after the event. Follow the instructions provided by the career office or employer on how and where to submit your resume for consideration.
    • After the event, follow up to personally thank them (BONUS: Reference something you learned from the session to make yourself even more memorable!)

NOTE: Some events may be presentation style, while others, interactive. Be prepared to engage accordingly. We recommend keeping your camera on or at least when asking questions but understand if that may not be feasible for some. Engagement can also include commenting in the chat and unmuting to ask a question when appropriate.