Career Services

Welcome, CUSSW students and alums! Throughout your life as a social work professional—first as a social worker in training, then as a licensed social worker—one of the most important questions you will explore is: how do I manage my career in a way that allows me to make full use of my training, skills and knowledge, experience personal fulfillment and earn a living? The Office of Career and Leadership Development is here to guide you in locating suitable career opportunities and in making the right professional decisions. To introduce you to our services, we have compiled a list of questions that we frequently hear from both students and graduates.

  • Can you help me find a job?

    We serve two main constituents: students and alumni. We help individuals in both groups identify the skills, experiences and resources to plan their careers and find meaningful work upon, and beyond, graduation. Our services include individual career counseling, workshops on résumé writing and related topics, and networking events such as career fairs.

    For more details, and to get started with your career planning, please download the CUSSW Guide to Career Development (PDF: 78 pages). And, once you have done some basic preparation, consider signing up for a career counseling session. Current students should use our online form; alumni should e-mail us at swcareer@columbia.edu.

  • Where are you located and what are your hours?

    We are on the 5th floor, Rooms 525 and 526. Our office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students without an appointment are welcome to drop in on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. (note new hours!).

  • How can I get an appointment for a career counseling session, and what will it cover?

    Signing up is easy: go to our online appointment form. (Note: First-time visitors will need to register.) Sessions last 30 minutes, and it is up to you to decide what will be covered during that time. Popular topics include résumé and cover letter critiques, interview preparation, mock interviews, networking strategies, salary negotiations, and techniques for mapping out a career plan.

  • What kinds of jobs do people with social work degrees usually get?

    Graduates of CUSSW have pursued careers in all aspects of social work: clinical social work, public policy, community organizing, corporate consulting, economic development, international social work, macro social work and private practice. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the range of possible job opportunities is to talk to CUSSW alumni. Watch out for brownbag lunches and panels featuring alumni talking about their career choices, which are scheduled throughout the school year. Alumni can also be a rich source for job leads and other information.

  • I’m a first-year student. Can you help me with finding a summer internship? What about an internship overseas?

    As a first step, we urge you to search our online database for summer internship opportunities. Before applying, you may also wish to sign up for a counseling session to go over your current résumé. If you are interested in volunteering abroad, we would encourage you to drop by our office on the 5th floor to browse through the information we've collected on international organizations and groups with overseas summer internship opportunities.

  • I’m an international student. Can I be hired by an American employer?

    As long as you hold an F-1 (student) visa, you are permitted to undertake internships during your studies. After graduation, you are permitted to hold full-time employment for practical training for a specific period of time. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) defines "practical training" as paid employment related to a student's field of study. For more information, please go to the International Students and Scholars Office (a Columbia University site). You may also find it useful to peruse the FAQ on our International Students Program page.

  • I’m a second-year student looking to start my job search. I need assistance with my résumé and cover letter, also with doing online searches. Can you help me get started?

    Our office provides the full range of job-seeking and support services, from critiquing your résumé to helping you to understand how your values, skills and passions influence your career decisions. One of our most popular resources is our list of online social work job boards. We also have our own jobs database, CUSSW Student Experience, which is maintained in partnership with more than 1,300 employers and open only to CUSSW students.

  • I’m an alum. What can you help me with?

    CUSSW alumni have access to the exclusive jobs database CUSSW Alumni Experience, which is maintained by our office in partnership with more than 1,300 employers. We also offer assistance to alumni who are seeking to upgrade or change direction in their careers and/or hone their leadership skills. Career counseling sessions for alumni take place on Fridays during the academic year. To make an appointment, please send an e-mail to swcareer@columbia.edu. For further career guidance suggestions, see also the CUSSW Alumni page.

  • Does the School provide opportunities to meet with potential employers?

    Throughout the academic year, we arrange for potential employers to visit the School to host information sessions on their organizational culture and take questions on job opportunities and typical career paths.

    In addition, our Office cosponsors two major career fairs every year:

    1. The Not-for-Profit/Public Service Career Fair, a Columbia-wide event for students and alumni who are interested in pursuing employment in the not-for-profit/public service sector.
    2. The Master’s Level Social Work Career Fair, for social work schools in the tri-state area. 
    Both of these fairs provide opportunities for CUSSW students and alumni to distribute their résumés and market themselves directly to organizations. Information about both fairs is e-mailed to students and alumni. To prepare for a career fair, we suggest you attend one of our “Making the Most of a Career Fair” workshops.
     
  • I have an interview with an agency. How should I prepare?

    First, take the time to learn as much as possible about the agency. Go to its Web site and review its values and mission. Also review the different departments and programs and how they work together to accomplish the organization’s goal. Once you have the bigger picture, it is time to hone in on the specific department or division you would be working for. Look at their programs and/or services and review the staff makeup and profiles. If you know who will be interviewing you, take the time to research that person as well. Next you should research the position—scrutinize the job description to determine what they are really looking for. Finally, you should research yourself. Review your skills and strengths and connect these to what the agency wants. Also prepare some questions for the interviewer, and practice answers to the most common interview questions.

  • Still have questions?

    Still have questions?

    Please contact us at swcareer@columbia.edu or 212-851-2321. We also welcome any suggestions for improving the FAQs on this page. Please enter them into the "Contact Us" form.