Preparing Students for Career Success

In the summer of 2012, while students enjoyed time off from field and classes, Lesley Heffel, assistant director of student and professional development and alumni engagement, and Takako Kono, assistant director of MSW program services, were busy creating a new tool to guide NYU Silver School of Social Work students through the job hunt and long-term career development process.

"It became clear there were a lot of things going on at Silver, NYU, and New York to help students get ready for their careers after school," said Heffel, "but there was no overarching roadmap."

This roadmap for Silver School students became the NYU Silver Career and Professional Development (CPD) curriculum, launched in January. The CPD course is virtually housed as a tab in NYU Classes and includes a series of modules for students to plan their short-term and long-term career goals, critique other students' resumes, and manage their online personas.

The NYU Silver CPD curriculum is made up of two areas of content: the foundations timeline for continuing students and the advanced timeline for second-year and graduating students. The NYU Classes tab consolidates information and resources for students in one place, providing answers to common questions and allowing them to learn this information at their own pace.

"The purpose of these assignments is to help students determine where these next couple of months fit into their 10-year plan," said Kono. She encourages students to explore the March curriculum on the CPD tab, which includes tips on how to network and a PowerPoint presentation that walks students through the networking process.

Heffel and Kono also encourage students to explore the opportunities provided through the Wasserman Center, which includes free services to NYU Silver students for one year after graduation. Through Wasserman, NYU Silver students can post their resume online, look for jobs, sign up for appointments with career counselors, and have their resume and cover letters reviewed.

Another Wasserman program Heffel and Kono discussed is the Mentor Network Program, which allows NYU Silver students to contact alumni. Through these connections, students are able to learn about alumni careers and organizations through an informational interview, shadow the alum at his or her job, or have an ongoing mentorship opportunity. The Wasserman Center also offers students Interview Stream, a mechanism to practice for interviews with access to over 1,500 interview questions and the ability to record and review practice interview.

The NYU Silver CPD curriculum, as well as opportunities offered through Wasserman, can prepare students for one of the final tasks before graduating: landing a job.

Of special importance is the upcoming NYC Metro Area Master's Level Social Work Job Fair for Silver School students. The fair will be held on Friday, April 12, at the Kimmel Center's Rosenthal Pavilion from 11am-3pm.

"We encourage students to go online and see which agencies will be there. There's a limited amount of time," said Heffel, who urges students to plan ahead so they can ask informed questions. There will be close to 60 agencies at this year's Career Fair, such as Astor Services for Children and Families, the Independence Care System, and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

"It's about making the most of your own time," Kono affirmed, "to get that personal connection."

Heffel and Kono both agree that students should bring copies of their resume and business cards, and to look at the map of where agencies will be at the job fair. Professional attire is also a must.

Career planning and job hunting is not the only place where Heffel and Kono suggest students focus their attention. Heffel noted the array of post-master's certificates available at NYU Silver. Students can also become members of the National Association of Social Workers and pursue educational opportunities through workshops and CEUs. Said Heffel, "It's really important for social workers to keep learning."

Kono added, "Even if you have your dream job, you should continue to have mentorship."