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!

Job Search Tips and Resources for Students

We know this is a hectic time for everyone, whether you are strategizing your post-grad job search or looking for summer opportunities. If you’re seeking some direction, see some highlighted tips below to get you started. Additional tools and resources, including links to 50+ job search sites, are also available within Career Connect.

Graduating Students

Getting started can be the hardest part. Break down the process into smaller, achievable parts and 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.

There is foundational work that can be achieved now as part of the process, which includes 1) building a target list of organizations and opportunities you’re interested in based on your skills, interests, and goals, 2) networking to learn more about them, and 3) preparing resumes that highlight relevant skills and accomplishments. You can also register for upcoming employer events, including our MSW Job Fair on Friday, March 26, to learn more about different organizations and opportunities.

International Students

Job searching can be a multi-hurdled process for international candidates seeking to work in the US, which requires additional knowledge and action steps. Review these tips for guidance. Make sure to also attend ISSO’s workshops on Optional Practical Training (OPT) if you haven’t already, and get in touch with their advisors to learn more about legal steps for pursuing employment.

If you need more support, we welcome you to join our Job Search Support Group for International Students, which will meet bi-weekly on Wednesdays starting February 3 until March 31, from 12:00 to 1:00 PM. You can choose to attend as many sessions are you want. Join us via Zoom.

Continuing Students

Summer is a great time to practice a new skill, find meaningful work, and build connections with professionals in the field. Review the career and volunteer pages of organizations of interest for the most up-to-date information on potential opportunities. Most of these organizations do not post on school job boards but may do so on sites such as Idealist. Volunteering is always a substantive way to build experience, if a feasible option.

For those who are more experienced in the field, sites like Taproot offers skills-based and pro-bono opportunities for organizations in need, and UN Online Volunteers and Columbia Global Centers offer remote opportunities with international organizations. Visit our fellowships page to find sample opportunities. Note that the pandemic may have impacted the needs and capacities of many organizations and the opportunities they are able to offer during the summer.

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.

Navigating the Job Search During Challenging Times

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.

Making the Most of Informational Interviews

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.

Get Career Advice from an Alum through our Fall 2020 Mentorship Program!

The Office of Alumni Relations and Office of Career Services and Leadership Management are pleased to offer a special opportunity to meet virtually with alumni for career mentoring!

Mentoring Program Overview

Through this program, students can request to connect with up to 2 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 all available volunteer mentors. 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 2 business days. If you don’t hear from Jennifer in that time frame, please email her at [email protected].
    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 stay in touch.

For more information, refer to our program overview.

Questions?

For general questions about our alumni mentors, please email Jennifer March at [email protected].
You can also refer to our Informational Interview Guide or schedule an appointment with our office to discuss your questions further.
We hope you take advantage of this opportunity!

Asking Powerful Negotiation Questions

Establishing your value and asking for more is not a selfish act, says Alexandra Carter, Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School and author of Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything. Instead, it primes others on how to value you and those who will come after you.

Negotiating is also more than asking for a higher salary and includes intangible benefits such as recognition for your achievements and mentorship and training opportunities. Asking questions is the most underutilized practice in a negotiation strategy, notes Carter. Some powerful questions she suggests asking yourself in any negotiation process are:

    • What’s the problem I want to solve and how? This can help frame what you want to ask for and how you ask for it.
    • What do I want from this negotiation? Consider both tangible and intangible needs.
    • What am I afraid of? Air out your emotions and hesitations by writing them down. Once you acknowledge your feelings, you can move forward to creating a strategy with confidence.
    • Where have I successfully advocated for myself or others in the past? In evaluating the strategies you’ve used and simply thinking about a prior success, you are more likely to do better in negotiating.

Remember, whatever you want to ask for, keep it optimistic, specific, and justifiable. Learn additional tips including how to boost your confidence going into a negotiation by listening to this episode on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Written by Rawlisha Pena, Assistant Director of Career Services and Leadership Management, August 25, 2020

Applying an Entrepreneurial Spirit to Your Career

With the world of work operating remotely, how do you stand out when the traditional means of making an impression, from networking events to coffee chats, no longer apply? Consider the framework of entrepreneurship.

An article in Forbes describes the entrepreneurial spirit as a mindset: “It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service, and continuous improvement.”

Here are some ways you can incorporate this framework into your professional identity and brand:

    • Engage in critical discussions: Attend virtual conferences to meet professionals in the field who are having important discussions about the world of work in the COVID-19 era. Use these as opportunities to connect with others, learn best practices in the field, and become a resource for your field or organization. You can also start your own communities of practice.
    • Innovate or influence: Have you been following the latest trends and practices on serving communities particularly impacted by the pandemic? Share relevant thought pieces and articles on LinkedIn so others can benefit from the knowledge. You can also publish your own articles to highlight new ideas or initiatives you have worked on.
    • Embrace the value of service: Remember the personal values that brought you to social work: helping others in need. Wherever you are, look out for the call for volunteers in your community. Contributing your time and skills will help you stay connected and engaged in a meaningful way, and at the same time, showcase your value to others.
    • Seek continuous improvement: If you’re job hunting, this is a prime time to invest in your professional growth. Whether you choose to learn a new language or further develop your technical or clinical skills, taking time to up-skill will show that you are open and able to adapt to changing needs and priorities–qualities that will make you attractive to any employer.

The world needs social workers now more than ever. Leverage your natural ability to lead the way in problem solving and effecting change! Doing so will not only enhance your chances for employment, it will also make you marketable for future opportunities.

Interviewing Skills Workshop Recap

Getting called for an interview is a positive sign in the job search process. With the focus on virtual interviews, our workshop last week covered tips and strategies on how to prepare for an upcoming interview and questions to anticipate. Tips included:

    • Connect with alumni who either worked at the organization or are in similar roles to gain insights into the organization’s culture and challenges
    • Test your technology ahead of time, choose a quiet, well-lit space to conduct your interview, and limit any distractions (learn more about video interviewing here)
    • Anticipate behavioral and situational-based questions and prepare answers that show how you’ve demonstrated pertinent skills

If you missed the event, you can review the presentation slides posted in Career Connect within our Document Library under the Presentation/Workshop folder.

Alumni Panel: Journey to the C Recap

Last week, we welcomed four alumni to speak about their path to clinical social work at our virtual panel discussion, Journey to the “C”, which was co-sponsored by the Mental Health Caucus. The discussion covered an array of topics, including clinical supervision, Institute training, and interview preparation.

Regardless of where each alum started their journey, there were common themes and strategies shared by everyone:

  • Expect bumps in the road, and be open to new experiences.
  • Actively engage in continuing education, trainings, and volunteer work to develop your area of expertise.
  • Seek supervision that allows you to be vulnerable or challenged — this is the most valuable type of supervision, because it will help you to grow.
  • Enjoy the process and experience with your clients and supervisors.
  • Don’t stop learning!

Thank you to our speakers Karisma Ajodah ‘02, Gale Bayer ’87, Jillian DiPietro ’16, and Eric Levanthal ‘02 for their candid insights and advice! Also, much appreciation to Ashley Leeds ’20 for moderating the panel and helping coordinate the event.

For an overview of the panel discussion, review the notes that were taken for the event, which are stored in Career Connect within the Document Library > Workshops / Presentations Folder.