Job Title: Social Worker
Education: BA Sociology and Anthropology, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest IL Some Graduate School, University of New Hampshire, School of Social Work.
Previous Experience: After college I worked as a residential staff for a wilderness therapy program in Utah for adolescent boys with criminal histories. I worked my way up in that company to team leader and eventually took a job as a child welfare caseworker. After two years as a child welfare caseworker I took a job with the same agency as the supervisor of my unit. Again two years later I took a job with the same agency as a curriculum trainer. One year later I was offered to supervise that same training team.
Job Tasks: Currently I train all employees in my region (approximately 150 persons) in service delivery, legislative updates, and some self-care techniques. I work for a state child welfare agency and service deliver is everything from assessing child safety, to use of our record database, to engaging clients in the process of change, to identification of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
80% of my typical day is spent on curriculum development and actual teaching in a classroom setting. The remaining 20% is spent inputing training records, training requests, and locating guest speakers. Travel is a significant portion of my job. In fact, I spend more than 50% of my working hours away from my home office. I travel as far as 300 miles one way.
As a trainer my job is feast or famine. There is little to do when I am not training, conversely when I am in a classroom there never seems to be enough hours in the day to complete all that I would like to or all that needs to be done. As such days on the road are long - 12+ working hours - while days at home are a struggle to fill. While training I need to be up to date on all regional, state and national trends as well as applicable laws and legislative mandates.
Deadlines are a real part of the job, and requires significant finesse of my schedule to meet the needs of the employees but otherwise the stress level of the work is very tolerable, especially when compared to child welfare case management itself.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is the classroom discussion and working with new employees to challenge them to do their best work, and make small incremental changes in the system of child welfare.
The worst part of the job is working with an employee who has produced lack luster results and trying to get them to change their habits that are not working, a very close second is time spent driving from one location to the next.
1. Take the time to listen to what the children are really telling you, learn to read body language of children.
2. Learn not to take anything personally, this includes the successes and failures of your clients.
3. Learn to take time for yourself, the work will always be there. Its OK to take breaks and vacations.
4. Know your personal biases, it will help you to know if you are reacting out of concern or repugnance.
5. If pursuing training, study up on adult education techniques and public speaking.
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