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.

Making the Most of Employer On-Campus Recruitment Events

Want to learn about organizations seeking to hire you for full-time opportunities? We have a number of employers visiting our campus over the next several weeks starting February 11 on Tuesdays from 1:00 to 1:50 PM.

Take advantage of these events to connect with representatives, gain insight into what they’re looking for in candidates, and enhance your chances of landing a job! Below is the schedule for February. Alumni are also welcome.

See a full list of confirmed employers here.

Here are a few ways to make the most of the events and stand out from the crowd:

    • Research the organization beforehand to get a sense of their services, impact, and the communities they serve
    • Prepare an elevator pitch and ensure that you arrive on time to make a good first impression
    • Ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your knowledge, interest, and curiosity to learn more about their organization, values, and culture
    • 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
    • Collect business cards, so you can follow up to personally thank them (BONUS: Reference something you learned from the session to make yourself even more memorable!)

Your Winter Break Checklist

The holidays are a great time to refresh, reflect, and revisit your career goals. Take advantage of the winter break to prepare for the coming year. Here are five things you can do:

  1. Assess your strengths and interests. Make a list of your accomplishments, particularly those you found meaningful. Note the skills you used and the issues you helped to address.
  2. Research career options based on the skills and issues that you have identified and draft a target list of jobs and employers. Start by talking to people in your fields of interest. You can also use job search tools available within the Document Library.
  3. Organize and prepare your application materials for different opportunities. Add your latest experience to your resume and LinkedIn. If you’re in the process of applying to summer and post-graduate opportunities, make sure to tailor both the resume and cover letter for each. Refer to the career guides and checklists in the Document Library for additional tips.
  4. Work on your personal pitchHow do you want people to remember you in terms of your skills, passions, and achievements? Take the time to brainstorm your talking points and practice sharing your story with different audiences. This will help with networking and interviewing.
  5. Continue to cultivate your network. Tap into the CSSW network by joining and engaging with the CSSW LinkedIn Group and Columbia Alumni Community. If you’ve been actively reaching out to people throughout the semester (great!), make sure to send them good wishes, share an update, and/or give thanks. Simple gestures can go a long way in enhancing your relationships and opening doors to new ones.

A Journey Towards a Dynamic Social Work Career

We were thrilled to welcome back alumna Ashleigh Washington ’09, Senior Director of Learning and Staff Development at Safe Horizon, to discuss how she shaped her social work career, from providing direct services and managing programs to leading trainings for a national organization!

Attendees had the opportunity to gain a number of takeaways, including:

  • Taking the time to reflect on your experiences and assessing the activities in which you excel, the issues and causes that drive you, and the environments in which you enjoy working and thrive;
  • Embracing every opportunity as a learning opportunity; and
  • Owning your own career journey, including actively seeking ways to grow, build skills and expertise, and contribute

Thank you, Ashleigh, for sharing your inspiring story and these useful tips on building a fulfilling career!

Did you miss the talk? The captioned recordings for this and Dr. Joy Ippolito’s talk are now available in Career Connect’s Document Library within the Workshops / Webinars / Presentations Folder. (UNI login required.)

Managing Your Personal Brand

Whether you know it or not, you have a brand.

For better or for worse, how you communicate and engage with others, whether in person, online, or on paper, shape the reputation of who you are and what you bring to the table. It can be as simple as an email you sent to a supervisor, a brief interaction you had with a peer, or a status you posted on your social media page — people will judge:

Do you communicate clearly and concisely? Are you respectful? Do you have a positive attitude? What do you stand for? Would I want to work with you?

Regardless of whether these perceptions ring true, they don’t always represent how you may see yourself or hope to be seen. However, you have the power to change this.

Personal branding is the practice of developing and managing your reputation based on the value you bring to the world. If you take ownership of this process and do it well, it may not only improve your image but also raise your visibility and access to new opportunities.

A good starting point is determining what you want your brand to be, auditing your existing brand, and refining it to better showcase your strengths and personality. A few questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Who are you? What’s important to you, and what makes you unique?
  • Are these aspects of you accurately reflected in your professional interactions? Social media profile? Resume?
  • Do they come across authentically and credibly?

Read additional tips on personal branding on Idealist Careers and/or attend our upcoming workshop on Wednesday, October 16 with Josie Rosario ’19 to learn more about how you can build your brand and enhance your marketability.

Strategies for Successful Student-Alumni Networking

Networking and informational interviewing are critical tools for career success, whether you are a student or seasoned professional.

Specifically, they can help you:

    • Learn about different careers and industries
    • Gain insider knowledge about specific positions or organizations
    • Discover “hidden” opportunities
    • Build a network of contacts for information-sharing, mentorship, and partnerships
    • Gain visibility in the field

Student-Alumni Networking Events are particularly valuable because they provide students an opportunity to connect with alumni who have an interest in sharing their insights and advice and can relate to their educational experience.

Whether you are networking in a formal or informal setting, consider the following strategies:

    1. Keep the goal in mind. The objective of networking or informational interviewing is to gather informationnot to ask for a job. If done effectively, it can lead to valuable contacts and information regarding potential opportunities.
    2. Conduct a self-assessment of your goals and interests. It’s okay if you’re not exactly sure what you want to do; however, you should have a general sense of your skills, goals, and interests so that you can ask targeted questions that can help you move forward.
    3. Prepare an introduction. How you introduce yourself will influence how you’ll be remembered. To make a strong first impression, be ready to share a quick introduction on who you are, what you do or have done, and what you hope to learn. Be sure to bring business cards if you have them.
    4. Do your research. Learn as much as you can about your prospective new contacts using online resources such as LinkedIn. They have invested time out of their schedule to meet with you; invest time to learn as much as you can about them.
    5. Develop a list of questions. Conversations will be more productive if you prepare a list of relevant questions in advance. Examples:
      • How did you market your social work skills and experience to land your current role?
      • What classes were most valuable for the work you’re leading? 
      • What recommendations do you have for those interested in following your career path?
    6. If you’re in a group setting, provide opportunities for others to engage. You can learn a great deal from listening to and showing interest in others. It is also the courteous thing to do!
    7. Follow up. Make sure to send a thank you note to the contacts you made and stay in touch with any updates, especially if they provided specific advice or leads that were helpful. Go a step further and offer to serve as a resource for them in the future. Ultimately, meaningful networking is about cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship.

Planning Ahead for Post-Grad Opportunities

Whether you just started the program or are approaching your final year of study (or both!), setting aside some time to craft and implement your career action plan will be critical for effectively navigating the job search process. This may include:
  • Conducting a self-assessment of your unique strengths, interests, values, motivators, and goals;
  • Creating a job wish list including target organizations and opportunities;
  • Preparing your marketing materials (e.g. resume, LinkedIn profile, and pitch);
  • Developing your network of contacts in your fields of interest; and
  • Setting goalposts to measure your progress

Not sure where to start? Book a career appointment, or take a look at the extensive resources available within the Document Library of Career Connect. Finding an accountability partner with whom you could share your goals, challenges, and successes can also be a great way to stay on track!

Highlighting Your Soft Skills in Resumes and Interviews

resume GIF

As if crafting a resume that aptly and succinctly highlights your background and skills within a 10 to 15 second glance isn’t hard enough, highlighting critical soft skills, such as interpersonal skills — an essential qualification for any job — can be especially challenging.

So how do we tout such skills without saying that we simply have them? Start by thinking critically about what these skills look like in action-and-result form. For example:

  • Collaborated with a team to develop a new intake process.
  • Trained a group of student leaders on conflict resolution and mediation skills.
  • Developed partnerships with community organizations to streamline the client referral process.

Using concrete language to demonstrate your ability in these ways (i.e. showing versus telling) is far more effective than simply stating that you have good “people skills” or that you “work with well people”.

For more tips, review the resources in the Document Library within Career Connect.

Managing Your Job Search

Searching for a job, whether as a first-time job seeker or experienced professional, can feel like a roller coaster ride, filled with moments of hope, excitement, frustration, and disillusionment.

While there’s no quick, simple, or guaranteed way to smooth-sail through the process, there are tips, tools, and resources you can refer to that may help facilitate the journey. Take a look at a few below: