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
Yesterday, at our 2nd annual Communities of Color Networking Night, we had the pleasure of welcoming back alumni, both in person and online, to share their unique stories and perspectives on navigating their careers as professionals of color working in various roles and spaces.
Notable themes included the importance of being open and thoughtful about who you choose to connect with — recognizing that titles don’t always dictate the value others can offer — knowing what you want to learn and being proactive in the learning process, and using your natural ability as social workers to initiate and cultivate relationships.
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all our alumni who spent their evening with us to share their insights and advice, to James Singletary ’10, Associate Director of Field Education, who led an engaging panel discussion on strategic networking, and to students who participated and helped make the evening a success!
We hope everyone enjoyed the opportunity to connect and felt empowered to continue developing their network.
For tips on how to build on the connections you made after an event, click here.
Welcome back to a new school year! We hope you had an enjoyable summer break.
Appointments: Please note that our full appointment schedule is now posted on our career management system, Career Connect. Appointments can be booked up to six weeks in advance, with extended hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and are available in person, by phone, or via Zoom. To schedule, simply log into Career Connect, then go to Advising > General Advising > Add Appointment. We’re here to help you update your resume, prepare your career action plan, explore career options, and more!
You may also stop by without appointments during Drop-In Hours, Tuesdays through Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:00 PM for brief 10-15 minute meetings. Students will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Please make sure to check these weekly announcements for any changes to this schedule.
Workshops and Events: We also have a number of events coming up, including our Art of Networking Workshop being held on Wednesday, September 4, from 12:00 to 1:00 PM in Room C03. There is still space to attend! Take a look at additional upcoming events on our Career Events page.
Learn from 40+ Social Impact Leaders sharing their best strategies and advice for growing a career that makes a positive impact in the world at the upcoming Social Impact Career Virtual Summit, hosted by: and co-hosted by:
What You’ll Learn
- An in-depth understanding of the types of roles and career paths you can pursue in the social impact space
- Strategies on how to channel your passions, talents, and skills to create a career that makes a difference in the world
- Clarity on what nonprofits and socially-conscious companies are looking for in job candidates
- Tips on what you need to have in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile
- Advice on exploring new career options, searching for jobs, and tapping into the hidden job market
How the Virtual Summit Works
The Social Impact Career Virtual Summit is a FREE online event providing you with the key insights for growing a career in a B Corp, Social Enterprise, or Nonprofit; in CSR, Sustainability, and Impact Investing; or as a Consultant, Freelancer or Social Entrepreneur.
- After registration, you’ll receive an email with everything you need for getting the most out of the virtual event.
- When the summit begins on October 15th, you’ll receive an email each day with a link to access all the interviews for that day.
- All interview recordings will be available until midnight, October 18th.
- If you can’t make all the sessions, no worries! After you get your free ticket, we will provide an option to access all the summit recordings to watch at your own convenience!
Summit Schedule + Speakers
Day 1 – October 15th (7:00 pm EST)
Facebook Live Kick-Off Event: Summit Overview + Live Career Coaching Q&A with Marcos Salazar, CEO of Be Social Change
Day 2 – October 16th (9:00 am EST)
For-Profit Careers: Using Business as a Force For Good
Day 3 – October 17th (9:00 am EST)
Nonprofit Careers: Working to Solve the Most Pressing Social and Environmental Problems
Day 4 – October 18th (9:00 am EST)
Entrepreneurial Careers: Working as a Social Entrepreneur, Impact Consultant, Freelancer, and Creative Social Impact Career Pathways
Get your FREE ticket!
On Monday evening, more than 60 students and alumni of color gathered for an intimate roundtable networking event aimed to provide a safe, open forum to discuss job searching and navigating the workplace as a person of color. Student attendees commented how valuable it was to be able to connect with alumni in senior level positions from a variety of organizations and receive their candid insights and advice.
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our alumni guests, David Gopie ’00, Dianne Morales ’93, Dominic Cathey ’15, Eri Noguchi ’93, Jewel Mack ’92, Jillian Rose ’05, Kassandra Frederique ’10, Kenia Maldonado ’01, Kerron Norman ’02, Lisa Orbegoso ’05, Martine Baron ’98, Martinique Teperman, ’06, Micah Hasegawa ’15, Natalie Wright-Umoh ’03, Nathan Smith ’02, Trelan Holder ’06, and Walter Vega ’04, for taking time out of their evening to provide mentorship and support, as well as to our students who participated and helped make the event a great success!
Tips For Maximizing Your New Connections
- Send personalized thank you notes to the alumni you met, highlighting a specific tip you appreciated or insight you gained.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn, making sure to customize your request. Note that some alumni may prefer to keep their connections closed.
- If the alumni you spoke with offered to meet or chat again for one-on-one conversations, follow up on their offer with suggestions for potential dates, times, and locations that would accommodate their schedule.
- Keep in touch and update them on any developments resulting from their support. If you find articles or resources that may be of interest to them, pass them along! Remember, networking is a two-way street. The more you invest, the more you’ll get back.
Additional Resources for Networking
- CSSW Student and Alumni LinkedIn Group
Join a network of more than 2,700 students and alumni from CSSW to share and create new ideas, resources, and opportunities.
- Columbia Alumni Directory
Research, identify, and connect with CSSW alumni at large, and soon, the wider Columbia Alumni Community. Second-year students can immediately access the site using their UNI and login. First-year students will receive access within the next few months.