Job Title: Social Worker
Type of Company: Provide free pre-school services to at-risk families.
Education: BA, Political Science and Philosophy, Boston College Masters in Social Work, Columbia University
Previous Experience: Initially, I worked as a caseworker in a social service agency. I worked with individuals and families to help them get food, housing and employment. I continued to work at various social service agencies, eventually working in management positions. Now I work as a manager at a non-profit pre-school program.
Job Tasks: I am responsible for ensuring that families receive the services they need to support their children and families in the best way possible. At our program, each family works with a case worker. The case worker helps families access community resources as needed. For example, a case worker may help a parent who did not finish high school find programs in the area that can help her get her GED or high school diploma. In my role as a manager, I help the case workers find out about available resources and support case workers in their work with families. If a caseworker is having a difficult time engaging a family or needs help learning about what services might be available to the family, it's my job to help out. Staff, teachers and caseworkers sometimes ask me for support or assistance if they need help with a family or are not sure of what to do in a certain situation. I am responsible for providing supervision and oversight to the caseworkers, as well as working with the other managers to ensure the program runs smoothly.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is having the opportunity to work with families and children in a meaningful way. Plus, every day is different. Although there are similar tasks, I have the opportunity to work with different families and staff to troubleshoot issues and work to develop possible solutions.
The worst part of the job is that the issues that some families deal with can be overwhelming. It's depressing to think of children living in sub-standard housing who are not getting enough to eat and to actually be confronted them is even worse.
1. Explore jobs in social service at different agencies to figure out what interests you the most. Do you like working with children or the elderly? Are you interested in mental health issues? Do you think you would like to be involved in direct services or advocacy? You can work with many different populations; you just need to find one that works for you.
2. Social work can be a demanding job and you most likely will not find large salaries in this field. BUT, if you love the work, the right agency and co-workers will make all the difference. I can honestly say, I love going to work and always get up ready for the day. If you want to stay in this field, you must find a supportive work environment and seek out positive co-workers who can energize you and help you laugh!
3. Always challenge yourself. When you start getting bored in a job, find ways to explore other options or seek other employment avenues that can stimulate you. Work should not be just something you do ... seek something that is fulfilling and challenging. Keep your mind and your heart active.
4. Do not be afraid of change. See it as a growth opportunity.
Additional Thoughts: Most important personal qualities: ability to collaborate and a commitment to people.
Most surprising: People are always amazed when I say I like my job. I think people are accustomed to thinking work stinks. Find what makes you happy and do it. Never be okay with the fact that you hate your job. You should work somewhere that you enjoy.
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