I have a passion for helping others solve problems in their lives and find joy. One of my greatest passions right now is working with teens who need someone to talk to who will 1) Give them freedom to be honest without judging them, 2) Ask the tough questions, and 3) Challenge them to take the reins on their life. Right now I do this purely on a volunteer basis, but am considering pursuing it as a career. How have other veterans gone about jumping into a career helping others (Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist, etc). Where has your career taken you with a social work degree?
Thanks for your question! I graduated with my MSW about 18 months ago, happy to offer what limited insight I have. I chose a less traditional path in social work, as my passion as always been with social policy.
The great thing about social work is that there are SO MANY options about what to do in the field. No 2 social worker jobs are the same, which gives you a huge variety in career options. You really get the opportunity and exposure to work with any and every population you'd like. You have options to work in the community, in private practice, in schools, and in agencies.
Regarding getting an MSW, there would be 2 things that immediately come to mind to consider. The National Association of Social Workers has pretty strict requirements for obtaining the degree, the most important one being a "full-time" internships requirement. You will be expected to work in the community for about 25 hours week, and most schools require this to be unpaid since you'll be receiving school credits. While this offers a great exposure to the profession, it makes it difficult to also have a paying job.
The other consideration would be specialization. Most schools will offer at least 2 "tracks" within the degree, and some will offer more. For example, my school offered 4 tracks to choose from. This will limit your class options (ie by choosing Policy Practice, I was closed out of classes for grant writing for example). It might be a good idea to have a good sense of what track is right for you before enrolling in school, to make sure you can maximize the elective options. Any school you are interested in will be happy to talk this through with you.
Finally, I highly recommend you identify some people on linkedin who are in a job that sounds appealing to you and reach out to them. Social workers love to talk, I have no doubt that anyone you reached out to would be happy to discuss their education and career path with you.
Feel free to reach out with any additional questions, and best of luck!
Thank you for your service and for asking this question! You're in good company on this site if you're thinking about an MSW - we've had Veterans ask what the field is like and try to expand their networks accordingly.
What I'm getting at is that there are people in the community you can ping (try messaging them directly if their responses piqued your interest). A couple of places to start:
This question received answers from Advisors that hold MSWs or ran in those circles: https://acp-advisornet.org/questions/643
This Veteran was conflicted on how to best help people as well, and got advice on the MSW among a slew of other things: https://acp-advisornet.org/questions/2099
Finally, you can always take a look at our community section!
Hope that helps - let me know if you'd like to discuss further.
Thanks, Jessica! Great rundown of some good considerations as I look at school, internships, etc. I'll be sure to research those aspects for various programs if I start going down this route. Best of luck to you!
Thank you, Mikhail! I will be sure to pursue speaking with more folks across the site. Really appreciate the links, as well.
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