In the modern job-searching environment, being connected is more important than ever. With an abundance of options for connecting with potential employers and people with similar interests, it’s difficult to know where to start. When I was in grad school and looking for opportunities to work in the peacebuilding world, I discovered a few important facts: finding the right job was less important than finding the right networks, and “networking” was less about connecting with influential people and more about connecting with future peers and finding the right tribe.
Why Networks: For me, the act of “networking” was less important than tapping into the right networks. When I was in graduate school, I made a point to join listservs and affinity groups that focused on topics I was interested in learning more about. By connecting with networks rather than individuals or organizations, I was able to broaden my horizons significantly and immerse myself in the peacebuilding world.
Look for Linkages: When looking for careers in the field of social good, it’s important to broaden your vision beyond specific interests to see how everything connects. Even though I was looking for positions in the conflict resolution field, I joined networks that were in the social good realm but had nothing to do with peace and conflict in order to see how everything was connected. This made me a much better candidate for jobs in the peacebuilding space, as I approached the field having gleaned important insights from disparate fields of knowledge.
Find Your Tribe: When you finally find the right job in the social change realm, you will be joining more than just an organization—you will be joining a tribe of like-minded individuals that extends beyond your organization. These individuals will become your colleagues even if you do not work directly with them in your first job, so it’s important to engage with them and work together whenever you have common cause to do so. Membership in this network is more permanent—and more important—than your first job, as it will lead to new opportunities in the same sector (or in a completely new one) further down the road.
Networks are powerful mediums for connecting with people, organizations, and ideas. At my organization, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, we are currently working on a project with students from American University to examine networks in the social good sector and figure out what makes them effective and impactful, and will use that data to figure out ways to enhance our work.
When it comes to networks, PCDNetwork is the best example of how to bring together people from different fields who share a common commitment to positive social change. If you’re trying to find your tribe in this network age, you would do well to start your journey here.