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
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]
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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.
Looking to revamp your resume in preparation for your impending job search or internship placement?
Attend our upcoming resume webinar on Wednesday, December 2 from 12:30-1:30 PM ET led by alumna Julie Kim Richards ’96, MSW New York Coordinator for Social Work p.r.n., a specialized social work staffing agency serving the New York City Metropolitan area.
At this event, you will learn:
- What employers look for in resumes
- How to effectively showcase your skills, experience, and value
- Additional tips to make you stand out
Register here to receive a link to the webinar.
About Julie Kim Richards
Julie Kim Richards is the New York Coordinator for Social Work p.r.n., performing the role of recruiter and temp assignment coordinator in the only staffing agency created exclusively for social workers by social workers. Julie’s varied professional experience in multiple agencies and fields has driven her passion to help make the right fit for social workers and the settings where they work.
Julie’s social work experiences include individual and group therapy, advocacy, and supervision in the areas of child and family services, developmental disabilities, substance use, and services in schools. She dedicated 14 years of her social work career to developing the programs of a New York City agency that provides linguistically and culturally-specific services to Asian survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual abuse. As the Director of Programs, her accomplishments included nomination to Vice President of the Advisory Council to the New York State Office of Victim Services, and the development of: a women’s wellness center, a legal services division, a digital art therapy youth program, and a training program—all achieved while maintaining high-quality services provided to over 600 women and children annually, including a hotline provided in over a dozen Asian languages. Julie has presented at numerous conferences on the topics of domestic violence and mental health in the Asian community, including a workshop provided at the U.S. Department of Justice Domestic Violence Summit. She has also taught the domestic violence practice course at Columbia University School of Social Work.
The global COVID-19 pandemic, sociopolitical climate, and accompanying distress — particularly for BIPOC communities that have been disproportionately impacted — have brought added challenges to an already stressful job-hunt process. For those graduating next spring, these challenges may feel particularly pressing.
The importance of self-care cannot be understated, especially during these times, and we encourage prioritizing it in your search and overall career management strategy. This may include monitoring your energy; setting mini-goals, and adjusting them as needed; as well as finding support and community within and outside of your personal, professional, and CSSW network, including one-on-one appointments with our office.
Students can receive additional support through our mentorship program, a new initiative started in the spring that facilitates connections to alumni for career insights and advice. BIPOC-identified students can also participate in our upcoming Communities of Color event, an annual program designed to connect and engage students and alumni of color in candid career conversations within a dedicated support space.
See below for more tips and resources on navigating the job search, as highlighted in last week’s webinar:
- Treat job searching as a process. Allow time to reflect on how you can contribute to an organization so that you can tailor your search for opportunities that speak to your strengths, interests, and values.
- Break down the process into smaller, achievable parts. These may include clarifying your goals and direction through a self-assessment, establishing your target list by conducting research on organizations that have missions that you care about, and learning more about career options and opportunities through informational interviews.
- Create a timeline and action plan using organizers to track your progress. This will allow you to recognize and celebrate mini-wins that you achieve along the way, which in turn can help you stay motivated and focused.
Remember, you’re not alone on this journey — there’s a community you can turn to for support. Take a moment to assess what networks and supports might be most helpful for you, not only for landing a meaningful role but also for maintaining your momentum and well-being for the long haul.
If you missed our webinar, you can find the presentation slides in Career Connect within our Document Library under the Workshops / Webinars / Presentations folder.
Does the idea of conducting informational interviews feel intimidating?
Consider thinking of them as “curiosity conversations”—opportunities to make meaningful connections with folx in your field and gain insights and advice that will help you move forward in your career development.
If you missed our information interviewing webinar last week, here are some key takeaways:
- Clarify your interests, needs, and goals to assess what knowledge and insights will help you move forward in your career exploration.
- Identify contacts from your network who possess the background or expertise in your area of interest, including through the CSSW LinkedIn Group or career mentoring program for students.
- Prepare a brief overview of your professional experience and an agenda for the meeting to ensure you leave with your “must” takeaways.
- Ask thoughtful questions that can provide actionable insights and build upon what you already know.
- Make sure to follow-up with a thank you note and keep the contact up-to-date on your progress.
You can find the presentation slides in Career Connect within our Document Library under the Workshops / Webinars / Presentations folder.
Last week, our office sponsored a panel discussion with VNSNY and their community mental health professionals to learn about their career paths and what led them to this work.
If you missed the session, here are some key takeaways:
- Meet and build relationships with folx in the field, because networking is still one of the most effective ways to land opportunities.
- Seek mentors and supervisors who are invested in your development. Surrounding yourself with a strong support system is key to growing and advancing in an organization.
- Take risks by being open to new opportunities or exploring new paths—these experiences can help you build career agility, find meaningful work, and expand your professional network.
- Take ownership of the job you have right now; it will not only help you build character and skill sets for your current role, it will also prepare you for future ones.
- Make sure to prioritize self-care. When interviewing, ask questions about initiatives that are in place to support the well-being of employees and the agency as a whole.
Thanks to those who attended, as well as to our speakers Jessica Aitken, Natasha Anderson, Deborah Cho ’15, Sabrina Machuca, and Echelle Norman, and Keith Peters and Leah Blumberg for collaborating with us on this event!
You can find the presentation slides and speakers’ contact information in Career Connect within our Document Library under the Employer Events / Information Sessions folder.