Crossing the Digital Divide: Networking and career development for online learners


Olimpia Kaczmarczyk-Benoit 2015 MATD Graduate

So a while back, you decided to change careers. After a period of frustration and trying different things, you finally decide that the first step to a successful career change is to get a Master’s degree at Roosevelt University for example, in Training and Development. Congratulations! The first step on the journey to the new career is complete. But now what? You may ask yourself…How do I grow my network of colleagues and gain industry experience sitting on my sofa at home taking online classes? It is a valid question. It is an important question to ask if you don’t work in the new field and don’t have contact with other professionals in the field. You are ready to immerse yourself in a new career but where do you start? The good news is that all you have to do is to look around Roosevelt University and take advantage of what the school or your department has to offer.

  1. Career Development Center. Get off the sofa, and make your way to the Career Development Center and have the nice professionals look over your resume and help you rewrite it so that it reflects your new skills and abilities.
  2. Career Fairs. The Career Development Center organizes fairs on the campus and you should take advantage of this opportunity. Meet other job seekers and connect with potential employees. Even if you do not make job contacts, you will leave with a headshot (for free!) taken by a professional photographer that you can include on your LinkedIn page.
  3. Department blog. The Training and Development department has its own blog. You know that of course because you are reading this post but other departments are sure to have similar blogs where various topics pertaining to your field are discussed. The blog is worth visiting for many reasons besides getting the extra 5 points in some classes. Treat it as an additional source of information regarding current topics in the Training and Development field and a place where you may find a job. Check out the job postings often because you never know what opportunity may be posted there.
  4. Reach out to your classmates. This seems like a simple piece of advice but just because you are taking online classes does not mean that you cannot create deeper connections with your classmates. Start building a circle of new friends and fellow professionals that can support you in your career choices

What other pieces of advice would you add to this list?

What have you found to be the most helpful in your transition between careers?

What is your most valuable piece of advice to help other find new jobs?



  • Thanks for the information, I wish I had thought of building a network with my peers when I first started this program, I am in my last two weeks and over the last 2 years I have encountered a lot of individuals that I would have liked to keep in contact with.

  • Thanks for your blog. I’ve heard about the career fairs but have not taken part yet. Since I’m nearing the end of my degree. I’ll look into this right away. Also, I was not aware of the headshots.

  • Great information Olimpia. As you said networking with peers help a lot. I am doing TRDV-411 course. I met lot of peers of diverse backgrounds. Posting the resume on ‘Water Cooler’ on your classes discussions forum help to inform that you are looking for a position.

  • I have found the group at ATD in Chicago to be a great resource for networking. There are a few professors here at RU that can point you on the way toward a career that fits you best. I’m transitioning over from a completely different career and although I have experience in the training field in the last 3 years, It’s not enough to make the squad on a training department with a company at the moment. While I keep trying to find that role, I continually challenge myself to hone in on the value my experience brings to others. That is really all I can do now.

  • This post was very helpful. Something that I would add to this list is to share possible positions in the worforce pertaining to training and development and add detailed information like possible salaries,benefits, qualifications..etc.
    Advice I would give someone transitioning from one career to a new career choice is to just do it take thought out risks and go for a career that you will enjoy.

  • I’d like to add participation in our newly formed TRDV student organization as a way to build your network. I’ve provided a link to the blog post seeking volunteers:

  • I am completing my last year here at Roosevelt. I think that two other pieces of advice would be to join volunteer organizations where you can build your network. Never know who knows who. Also, reach out and contact someone that you know is affiliated with your career aspirations, and prepare an introduction of yourself and your accomplishments, coming with any questions you might have. The more people that know your interests, the better the chance a door will open for you.

  • I agree that joining the local ATD chapter is a great idea. I joined the national organization just before I enrolled at RU in the MATD program, and it seems like they have a lot of excellent online resources that will be useful as I work through my classes. I am currently taking my first two classes, and I am going to join the local chapter so that I can start to reach out to local professionals for observations and mentorship. It seems that the same could be done by a recent graduate as well. With regard to job transition, I found a career coach to be an excellent investment.

  • As a RU online student in the Graduate Program of Training & Development, this post hit close to home. I have the passion, I am gaining the skills, but networking has been a challenge. I currently live in Rhode Island, so a trip to campus would be a huge undertaking. I have joined my local ATD chapter, which has been great. Do you have any other suggestions for those of us in different time zones?

    • Great question! There are also many virtual opportunities to network in webinars (see ATD) and virtual communities in ATD as a place to start. You might also look at events in major cities closer to home.

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