Friday, November 27, 2015
Welcome to Your Winter Break: Networking!
Welcome to your first winter break, congratulations on finishing your first quarter. Although you may think that winter break is a time to not thin about school or social work, it is an important time to utilize volunteer and create networking opportunities. Winter break is a great time to create professional connections and networks. This could look like volunteering weekly or a few times over the break and establishing professional connections with that agency or you could reach out to different agencies and social workers to establish professional connections. I currently have multiple meetings with different social workers to establishing professional working connections for future career or volunteer opportunities.
The winter break is a great time for these type of opportunities because you do not have course work that may be taking up most of your free time. Reaching out to agencies and social workers may be new for you, but it is a valuable networking tool.
Winter break is a great time to set up informational interviews, the goal of these interviews are not to ask or obtain a job but to gain information and to create a professional connection.
A skill you should have as a social worker is the ability to interview someone for information. Use this skill in your professional networking. Informational interviewing is one of your most important networking tools. An informational interview is a 30-minute meeting that you set up with an individual, preferably in-person, to gain career advice and information. It is not a time to inquire about specific employment opportunities. Again, networking is about building relationships, not burning bridges. Come prepared by researching the individual and the company where he or she works, and have questions ready to ask, but let him or her do most of the talking.
Volunteering is a great opportunity to engage in because it creates professional connections and can be a great way to build your experience for your resume.
Nothing shows organizations that you are committed to their mission more than volunteering for them. I have been a volunteer at three organizations that eventually hired me. Find volunteer opportunities that are in line with your professional passions and career goals. Even if the organization isn’t able to hire you, it will be able to provide a reference for you or help connect you to other organizations in the community. However, don’t jump ship as soon as you find another opportunity. Volunteer commitments should be taken seriously, and you should honor your obligation.
Other tools for successful networking over your winter break, and throughout the year can be found, here.