Social work is not a field for the faint of heart. If you chose social work as a career to strike it rich, you might need to rethink your goals. Anything is possible, but…you know. If someone told you it was the field for you, make sure you agree. Social work, at its core, is caring, sharing, empowering, connecting, educating, and advocating career field. Social works’ mission is NOT to take children away from their families. The brave men and women who strive to be effective change agents, often, work with unfunded mandates, low salaries, irate clients, ebbing and flowing funding sources, hazardous environments, etc. So, when you decide (or when the profession chooses you), aim for the stratosphere.
A significant portion of social work education involves the social work field placement experience. I want to provide some tips and tricks that may assist you in finding the placement and experience you seek and avoiding early mistakes (and maybe some tears). These tips can work for Bachelors’ and Masters’ level social work programs.
If you are about to embark on the field experience journey, here are some things to consider, as you prepare.
- Verify you are in a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE establishes the guidelines and standards for social work education programs. Visit their website for more information: https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation.
- Make sure you take all required courses necessary. Yes, research and statistics can be difficult, but you will be grateful for it when you attempt to conduct an evaluation of a program.
- Chose your focus (schools, medical, veterans, trauma, families, communities, policy, etc.)
- Look for agencies within or related to your chosen field. A rule of thumb is to, initially, pick 3-5 agencies. Be aware that some social work programs require you to select from their established list.
- Research the agencies you pick
- How long have they been operating?
- What services do they provide?
- What other agencies/companies do they partner with?
- Where does their funding come from?
- Contact the social worker at the agency (unless your program liaison says otherwise)
- Find out if they have any open slots for social work interns
- Schedule an appointment
- Prepare for your interview
- Review the initial information you gathered
- If they have an annual report or a website, read it
- Develop a list of questions for the interview
- Prepare for their potential questions
- What brought you to social work?
- How familiar are you with the agency?
- What type of social work or human services experiences do you have?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- Tell me about a challenging situation you faced.
Even if theses questions are not addressed in the interview, these are questions you should consider. The social work field experience provides you with a fantastic opportunity to develop your skills. This is your chance to make mistakes, learn what you’re good at, and combine what you have learned with practice. So, just breathe and get prepared. If you found this helpful, leave comments, like the post, follow the page, and share. Any feedback you can provide is appreciated.
Keep on pushing,