Social Work: A Wealth of Opportunities

by Januari Leojanuarileo@yahoo.com
Originally posted February 26, 2010

As I approach the final few months of graduate school, I’ve begun to think about what I would really like to do when I graduate. It’s extremely important to me to not accept just any job. I want something that I will be happy with, that will give me joy when I go to work every day. I would like something that offers me room to grow and learn, and keeps me connected with the community. Over the past month, I feel I have narrowed down the social work opportunities that would be a good fit for me.

My Affecting Social Policy class with Dr. Pritzker is my absolute favorite class this semester. We’ve had the opportunity to discuss advocacy, and what steps need to be taken in order for your efforts to be the most effective. Every few weeks, Dr. Pritzker brings in guest speakers who are professional social work advocates. Some have worked for state legislators or other political entities doing policy advocacy, and some are advocating for communities. Several weeks ago, Bolivar Fraga with Neighborhood Centers, Inc. spoke to us about community organizing and development. As he spoke on organizing, in particular, I felt myself becoming more and more enthused. A community organizer works with a particular population, in his case a specific neighborhood, and determines what needs need to be met in order for it to thrive. This involves speaking with members of the community, visiting with them either casually or in more formal settings such as a focus group. Organizers also attend various meetings and ultimately determine who the power players are, or who has the capacity to make change happen. Social work assessment skills are imperative and perfectly suited for this line of work. You get to work directly with “clients”, but not necessarily in a caseload sense.

Last week I was able to attend the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Houston Chapter’s annual “Ask The Experts” conference. Fundraising and development is another area of social services that I love. I was able to attend the conference at a student rate, and received field hours at the same time because it directly relates to my administrative learning process. I had the best time, and left completely excited about adding fund development to my list of possible social work options! There was a fantastic session on grant writing that provided me with handouts that I was able to pass along to students in my Administrative Practice class. I heard GCSW alumnus Stephanie Foy talk about putting the strategy in your strategic plan, and creating that plan with vision. I learned the importance of storytelling when trying to woo potential donors. Stories are something that social workers are never short on!

Scot More, who is one of the best advocates I know, works for the Coalition for the Homeless. A few weeks ago, he put out a message on Facebook (the power of social networking!) calling for volunteers for their upcoming conference. I was able to attend a $300 conference for free and get field hours because my placement agency is a Coalition member. Best of all, I was the volunteer for the full-day Funder’s Institute which featured the Senior Program Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation! And he is a social worker!

There are so many different career paths available to social workers. I feel like over the past few months, I’ve had great opportunities to see the best of the best representing the profession in a myriad of ways. I am so enamored of social work and all the possibilities that come along with it. I’m ready to begin.

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