Columbia Career Design Lab (CDL)—Student Program-Specific and Career Mastermind Group for Job Seekers

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Q) What is a CDL Mastermind Group?

  • A group of like-minded individuals determined to achieve personal and professional goals, who      also recognize that they can make significantly more progress when working together rather than alone.

Q) Why join one?

  • Exchange ideas and best practices for conducting successful job searches, and possibly job leads
  • Increase each others’ professional networks
  • To support each other and hold each member accountable
  • Serve as sounding boards
  • Make substantial progress towards career goal achievement—more so than one would have if doing it alone

Q) Who can join?

  • Enrolled M.S. students in the School of Professional Studies and alumni

Q) Who facilitates?

The Career Design Lab Manager/s for both NY and SF help facilitate the logistical formation of the Student Career Mastermind Groups who are pursuing similar career objectives and will occasionally check in. We want students to take full ownership and be empowered, so we will not be at every meeting. These groups tend to consist of students that share the following characteristics:

  • Self-motivated and disciplined
  • Enrolled in the same master’s program
  • Share similar career goals (e.g., seeking full-time employment vs. summer internships)
  • Looking for employment in a particular industry
  • Are at similar stages in their careers (e.g., entry level, senior, executive, transitioner, etc.)

Q) What kind of mastermind groups will CDL manage?

  • Program-Specific (ie APAN)
  • Mentorship
  • Digital-transformation
  • Alumni
  • Other, TBA 

Q) Who else can be added to the group? (varying levels of experience)

  • Current Grads ( < 6 months post-graduation)
  • Alumni ( > 6 months post-graduation)
  • Recent hires
  • Employers
  • Mentors
  • Faculty
  • Industry leaders

Q) How many students can join?

  • 12 persons max (initially) including facilitator/s; so 10 students including facilitators (CDL staff)
  • Once 2 people join, the group is active

Q) When are applications due?

  • Applications are due at the beginning of each graduating term’s month (Oct, Feb, and May) on the first of the month—members can only join following these periods if their application is approved.
  • Please allow two weeks for processing and issuing a response

Q) How often do members meet, and where?

  • 1x/Month or Biweekly
  • Meetings will take place in person at the CDL creative space, online or Zoom, on or off campus
  • CDL welcomes and encourages all Mastermind Groups to meet at our office in Times Square: 729 7th Ave, 3rd floor, New York, NY
  • Two no-shows for any reason disqualifies you from the group; a written excuse must be submitted in writing to the Student Career Mastermind Coordinator, Greg Costanzo, Associate Director of Industry Relations (

Q) What does the application entail?

  • Students must submit an application that includes a statement of purpose (no more than one page, double-spaced)
  • Students must answer the question: “What makes you a great candidate to be a CDL Student Career Mastermind?

Q) What does it cost?

  • Free (for now)
  • Membership may increase to a fee of $25-$50 in the future

Q) What else would I be expected to do?

  • A Canvas Group will be created and managed by CDL, but will be collectively owned by the Group’s members, where resources are shared and progress/updates towards goals are recorded
  • Effective ownership on creating and sharing short-term (3 months or less) and long-term goals (6 months+)
  • Serve as an “Accountability Partner” to one other member—reminding one another, checking in and holding one another accountable
  • Share accomplishments in the first ten minutes of the meetings
  • Hot Seats (participate); this will be on a rotation basis and be focused on collectively problem-solving each others’ challenges
The Inaugural Executive Director of Industry Relations and Career Strategies, Hassan Akmal,  and Author of How to be @ Career Mastermind, will periodically check-in with the Group, offers guidance, and help introduce any new members. 

Group meetings that taking place at CDL’s headquarters in midtown (NY) or downtown (SF) ensure that a Career Coach will be on-hand to address any questions and provide directional assistance.

Hassan Akmal is the Inaugural Executive Director of Industry Relations and Career Strategies, Lecturer, Career Mastermind, and Cofounder of the Career Design Lab at Columbia University.

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