Network & Navigate + Faculty Profile: Beth Ryan

As part of BUSE #275-02 Self-Management & Freelancing course, the students organized a networking event to interact with professionals in their fields of interest. Since the content of the course focuses on preparing students for self-sustaining careers, the students wanted a chance to practice their networking skills with industry professionals. The instructor, Beth Ryan, responded to the students’ request and engaged them in the planning and execution of the event. The 46 students, representative of majors across the college, organized themselves into groups to plan, invite, and host local freelancers and entrepreneurs in creative industries such as photographers, videographers, illustrators, designers, music journalists, A&R reps, filmmakers, fashion stylists, branding experts and web developers, and social media experts.

This hands-on approach not only empowered students to take ownership of their learning but also fostered the development of essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-confidence. Through this event, they strengthened their networking abilities, essential for navigating the intricacies of creative industries. As they venture into self-sustaining careers, this served as an invaluable stepping stone to enhance their resumes and portfolios.



Faculty profile with Beth Ryan

Photo credit: Charles Hammond Jr.

Congratulations on your recent promotion to Professor of Instruction! How has this transition impacted your role within the Business and Entrepreneurship department?

It’s exciting to be a Professor of Instruction as I was one of the early members in the teaching track process at Columbia.   This achievement is a result of the persistence and dedication aligned with the entrepreneurial spirit of our department.   In addition to creating the student-led event, Network & Navigate, I have been creatively engaged at the College in other ways.  I am particularly proud of being nominated by students to be a speaker at the TEDx Impulse Impact Columbia College.  The inspiration for my Impulse. Action. Impact TEDx talk came from life experience as a creative professional.   I have also been asked by college leadership to serve as the emcee for two of the 2024 commencement ceremonies, which is an incredible honor.

Can you share some insights into the recent networking event, “Network and Navigate,” organized by the students of the Self-Management & Freelancing course?

The idea for the event came from listening to the students in class and then pivoting to meet their needs.  I responded to the student’s interest in an opportunity for some real-life networking experience and designed the second half of the course to co-create an inclusive event to bring industry connections to them. Students were able to build their ‘value network’ by meeting and interacting with creative industry professionals who provided advice and insights to help them navigate career paths beyond the classroom.  Students articulated that networking events are often anxiety-producing, so I let them take the lead by inviting industry professionals and planning an event that would be more comfortable and inclusive.

Can you speak to the importance of experiential learning opportunities, such as networking events, in preparing students for self-sustaining careers in creative industries?

Giving students agency in-class activities empowers them to think and behave in creative and professional ways while increasing their abilities to critically think and problem-solve.  Providing students with the hands-on opportunity of planning the event engaged them in their learning and helped them discover talents they didn’t know they had.  It is a joyful experience to watch their self-confidence and self-efficacy skills increase as a result of planning and executing a creative industry project.  Plus, they have real-life achievements to add to their resumes and portfolios.