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
- 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.
- 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].
- 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.
For general questions about our alumni mentors, please email Jennifer March at [email protected]
We hope you take advantage of this opportunity!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Work on your personal pitch. How 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.
- 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.
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.)
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.