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?


  • This post was extremely helpful since I graduated this past Friday and I have been preparing a Career Plan for my transition to the Training and Development field. I intend on keeping in touch with my classmates with whom I have established relationships with and have proposed that we could form a networking group or think tank. I would add LinkedIn Groups, volunteering at a local ATD chapter, and volunteering with a non-profit organization to this list. I would also add attending any learning and development conferences. I think a digital or e-portfolio, a personal website or blog, and having a presence as a trainer or instructional designer on social media would be helpful in finding new jobs.

  • This is the exact situation that I found myself in! Thank you for the great advise and resources. I have not had a chance to go to a Career Fair but I will definitely be attending one of those in the future. I had no idea there was a professional photographer taking headshots. It is very important to have a professional picture on your LinkedIn page and this is a great resource. Than you!

  • I think this is great, especially for great advice for those who are in an online program. I wonder alot about how I can get the most of this experience while working a full time job and not being able to interact with those in my program on a daily basis.

  • The other advice that I would add would be the different transition can get you in the mood to become more professional in the world. what fits best for me in my career now is doing what I love which is working and helping children and staying in school to continue my degree.To continue looking and don’t give up and also network more with professional.

  • Wow! Although this post is dated, it is actually very informative. Like one person posted earlier, I am also nearing the end of my coursework for completing my MTRDV. However, everything that the College of TRDV has to offer is highlighted clearly through this post. Not only have you shined a light on some of the excellent offerings of the department, but if these are still in effect, I will be seeking help for the LinkedIn profile picture as well as the resume writing updates.

  • This article fit the right person of course, it has support facts about how I went through a transition before I started back to school online. I has to take time to relax and thinking about what would be important to me and most useful which is continue my education in school. so I can relate to these question of what I would do to began or look for success while switching careers. which would be first to always job hunt outdoors as possible come up with a schedule and days you will search to be able to put your best interest interest out there. What I have found to be more helpful is finding better time to management my careers of jobs. The value piece that I have to offer to others is to keep positive and stay strong. Always use the internet for a guide to post what your are interested in and use resources to allow them to assist you in better with your career. Such as library, books, computers, friends in position that can assist with reaching out.

  • 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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