In honor of First-Generation College Student Day celebrated yesterday, we would like to a give special shout-out to our first-generation students and alumni who are continuing to blaze a trail for themselves, their families, and communities and making their mark in the field of social work!
If you are currently pursuing opportunities as early career professionals or seeking to advance to leadership roles, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Know that you have a lot to offer. Start by embracing the knowledge and strengths you’ve built. Your resourcefulness, determination to succeed, and ability to both navigate uncertainty and complex systems and adapt to changing needs are all qualities that employers highly value. Keep a record of your unique skills and accomplishments and practice sharing them with others so you can feel confident conveying them to prospective employers.
- Build a support system. A healthy support system can offer validation and a safe space to bounce off ideas and concerns. Continue investing time in developing your trusted community of mentors, professionals, former supervisors, peers, faculty, and college administrators who can share resources, information, and potential access to opportunities. To find community on campus, check out the events hosted by the Graduate Initiative through University Life and reach out to the student leaders of the CSSW’s First Generation Lower SES Caucus.
- Be proactive in seeking resources. Continue to use resources inside and outside of Columbia to increase your knowledge around job searching, networking, negotiating salary, and advancing in the workforce. For instance, you can learn about the unspoken rules of the workplace and how to get ahead in your career from this HBR IdeaCast episode, Career Rules You Didn’t Learn in School, take a self-paced salary negotiation program with AAUW online, or attend the National Urban League’s professional development webinars. You can also participate in networking and leadership development activities through professional organizations such as the Network for Social Work Management. Links to similar resources are also readily featured in our enews, blog, and Career Connect resource library.