By Samantha Plotner
This Thursday, February 24 is the Civic Engagement Networking Night, which will be held at 7pm in the Diana Center Oval. Over 80 public sector organizations will have representatives in attendance. Over e-mail, Valerie Chow, the Program Director of the Internship Program/Civic Engagement, filled us in on the event.
A: Civic Engagement Networking Night is a collaboration among the Barnard Career Development office, the Student Governing Board of Columbia University, and the Columbia University Center for Career Education. We have hosted this event for the past two years and it is a great opportunity for students to network with professionals in civic engagement-related fields and learn about their career paths. We encourage students to start building up their professional networks while at Barnard because networking is an integral part of the search for full time post-graduation opportunities, especially in a depressed economy. This event will serve as a great tool for students to build up their professional networks.
Q: How is this different from a career fair?
A: This event is less formal than a career fair. A large number of the networkers are Columbia and Barnard alumni and students will be able to get the “inside scoop” on the networkers’ day-to-day work and career paths. These are questions that may not be appropriate to ask recruiters at a career fair.
Q: How did you decide which organizations would be included?
A: We wanted a wide range of organizations represented from all areas of the public interest and nonprofit sectors at the event. We also reached out specifically to Barnard and Columbia alumni and organizations that Barnard and Columbia students have worked with in the past or that are currently hosting Barnard and Columbia interns.
Q: Which students will get the most from this event?
A: I think all students will benefit from this event, even those who do not necessarily know what they want to do after graduation. It is a great event for students to explore different career paths in the public interest.
Q: How should students prepare?
A: Although this is primarily an educational event for students to learn about the networkers’ careers, some networkers will be there to source talent for internship or full time positions. To that end, students should bring their résumés with them, but only give them to networkers when asked. Students’ résumés should not be longer than one-page and should be professionally written. We are happy to critique résumés at Career Development (drop-in hours are from 10am to 5pm daily). We also recommend students to come to the event in business casual attire.
In addition, we are hosting a networking workshop at Career Development the day prior to the event to provide networking tips to students. Students who are interested in attending the workshop can RSVP via NACElink.
Q: What tips do you have for attendees so that they get as much as possible out of networking night?
A: Students should take the initiative to seek out the networkers they would like to speak with and prepare some questions that they would like to ask the networkers. Students should also remember to take down the networkers’ contact information and keep in touch with them after the event (they may do this by sending a brief thank you e-mail after the event or adding the networkers to their own LinkedIn networks). It is always beneficial to have professional mentors in the field and even if the networkers do not currently have open positions in their organizations, positions may open up in the future or the networkers may be able to connect students with other professionals in the same industry.
Q: Is there anything else students should know?
A: I highly recommend this event to all Barnard students and hope that they will join us at the event! This is a great event for students to build up their professional networks and obtain advice from professionals in the field.
Samantha is a sophomore at Barnard College and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing.