Friday, August 24, 2012

TIME: 10 Things To See in Detroit

Time Magazine lists ten must-see sites in Detroit. Which one is your favorite?
It's hard to think of the Motor City — a popular symbol of urban decay — as a vacation destination. But somewhere behind its neglected, graffiti-covered skyscrapers are charming reminders of a city that was once among the world's wealthiest. Today, rows of homes and stores that had been abandoned for decades are finally being demolished, making way for lush green spaces that give some sections of the city an odd rural vibe. Several new hotels, restaurants and art galleries have the potential to burnish Detroit's image further and revitalize the downtown area.

Detroit's premier event is, of course, the North American International Auto Show, held each January — but that's hardly the most appealing time to visit the Midwest. So unless you're an auto-industry exec, advertiser or journalist, it's better to visit Detroit in summer. Toward the end of the season, in August, you can catch the Woodward Dream Cruise, a one-day, multi-city celebration of the automobile, replete with parades, music and food. Or visit over Labor Day weekend for the annual Detroit International Jazz Festival. In any season, Detroit is a sports mecca, so be sure to catch a Tigers, Red Wings or Lions game during your stay. Read on for Detroit's other key attractions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Study for the Social Work Licensing Exam

Do you need to study for the ASWB social work licensing exams? In most states, MSW graduates take the Master's exam after graduation. In Michigan, MSW graduates only have to take two exams: Clinical and Advanced Generalist exams (passing score: 75%). The Social Work License Map contains more details about the social work licensing process and approved scope of practice in Michigan.

Since I concentrated in macro social work (i.e., management, community and policy practice), I am eligible to take the Advanced Generalist exam under the guidelines for Michigan social work licensure. However, it has a low passing rate (48.4%, as of 2011!) so I will have to study very effectively to pass on the first time. In my opinion, although it has been revised to reflect current practice, I still believe ASWB did not add enough macro and administrative content on the Advanced Generalist exam.

Do you suffer from test anxiety? Do you need exam advice? Ammu Kowolik, who works for the NASW-NYC chapter, wrote this excellent article on how she passed the social work licensing exam.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Michigan-Bound (Again!)

Previously, I was set to pursue my graduate studies at Penn GSE this fall. However, extenuating circumstances have forced me to successfully transfer to the University of Michigan School of Education.

I am a Wolverine student again! (Go Blue!)

There are benefits with the higher education master's program at Michigan. Full-time students generally finish in 2-3 semesters and pursue an internship (up to 20 hours per week) with a 9.0+ credits course load. I am also excited to pursue the new concentration, Diversity and Social Justice, that is being offered for incoming higher education master's students this fall. In Winter 2013, the university will also promote a campus-wide semester theme about Race in America. Talk about perfect timing!

If you consider the U.S. News gradate school rankings in higher education administration, Michigan (#1) is ranked higher than Penn (#9), and Michigan ($30,000, in-state tuition) is cheaper than Penn ($63,000, all students). Although I wanted to experience a new environment, I can always relocate for a job once I finish graduate school in 2013. It's a win-win situation for me: I am saving money and receiving a top-notch education. Ultimately, I want to pursue doctoral study in education hopefully five years from now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Career Opportunities in Education and Related Services (2006)

Career Opportunities in Education and Related Services - Second Edition (2006), by Susan Echaore-McDavid, provides basic general information about 103 professionals in education (school and non-school settings). Each profile summary includes information about salaries, related job titles, education and training, employment prospects, career advancement, job requirements (including licensure and certification), list of professional associations and unions, and tips for entering the field. It is a big book (300 pages) so you will find every career imaginable. Further resources and appendixes have been thoroughly updated and expanded to better serve students and career changers interested in the field of education.

  1. PreK-12 Teachers
  2. PreK-12 Teaching Specialists
  3. Post-secondary Educators
  4. Overseas Teachers
  5. School Administrators
  6. Higher Education Administrators
  7. Educational Assistants
  8. School Classified Staff
  9. Classified Staff in Higher Education
  10. School Specialists in Student Services and Special Education-Related Services
  11. Counselors
  12. Curriculum and Instructional Developers
  13. Educational and Instructional Technology Specialists
  14. Librarians
  15. Independent Instructors
  16. Health Educators
  17. Fitness, Recreation and Sports Professionals
  18. Environmental Educators and Animal Trainers
  19. Employee Training Specialist (Human Resources)
  20. Appendixes

Friday, August 10, 2012

Strengths and Weaknesses of Social Work

Last year, I earned my Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Michigan. Immediately following graduation, I became a Limited License Master Social Worker (LLMSW) in the state of Michigan. I have six years to complete two requirements in order to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (Macro Specialty): 1) pass the Advanced Generalist ASWB exam, and 2) receive a minimum of 4000 hours of supervision by a LMSW. After I finish my second master's degree in higher education, I hope to become fully licensed by 2015.

In this post, I will reflect on what I have learned as the strengths and weaknesses of social work in the past year.

Strengths

  1. The altruistic nature of the social work profession is both powerful and life-changing.
  2. Social work is a profession focused on empathy and empowerment of the individual.
  3. Social workers are committed to a social justice and social change framework.
  4. Social workers serve in a variety of roles: educator, enabler, advocate and activist.
  5. Social work utilizes various social science disciplines to improve human well-being and achieve social reform: sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, economics, and education.
  6. Social workers have the ability to plan and implement interventions with and/or on behalf of a range of individuals, groups, and communities based on evidence-based practices.
  7. The history of social work is full of significant accomplishments, such as historical figures (Janes Addams and Francis Perkins), civil rights-era figures (Dorothy Height and Whitney Young), and contemporary figures (Barbara Lee and Barbara Mikulski).

Weaknesses

  1. Social work services are voluntary and poorly advertised to the general public.
  2. The media depicts the social work profession in a misleading way (e.g., “social workers only work in the interests of the child welfare agencies”; “anyone can be a social worker”; “social workers only work with the poor”).
  3. Social workers don’t receive the same level of respect as journalists and social scientists in addressing issues of poverty and discrimination in the news media.
  4. The extent of bureaucratization in the social work profession is problematic; social workers may end up harming rather than helping clients due to changes in government funding and rules.
  5. Since social work agencies are, on average, inadequately funded, many social workers are also poorly paid.
  6. People are unaware of macro social work practice (working with organizations to promote socially-just policies and services at the community, national and international levels).
  7. People assume social workers only work in mental health settings; social workers can also be found in community development, crisis intervention, criminal justice, health care, higher education, international human rights, human services organizations, and public policy.

Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to add to this list?

UPDATE (August 2013): Don't forget to visit my more detailed posts on the problems affecting the social work profession:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service (2010)

Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service (2010), by Heather Krasna, provides job seekers with important tips on how to pursue a public service career in the non-profit, public, and private sectors. It also includes a foreward by Max Stier, President and CEO of Partnership for Public Service. Krasna is Director of Career Services for the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. She has more than 11 years of experience as a career advisor and employer relations specialist in colleges and universities.

This book helps you pinpoint the right public service career for your interests and talents.It provides details on major career areas in human services, health, education, civil rights, the environment, infrastructure, finance, international development, security and law enforcement, religion, and the arts. It also includes profiles of 26 professionals in all areas of public service, demonstrating how they got the job and what they like about their current position. It also includes listings of more than 250 professional associations, job search sites, and books, and career exploration exercises to help you pinpoint the right area for you.

In the last two chapters, content focuses on resume writing (including tips on writing a federal government resume!), cover letters, interviewing, salary negotiation, and getting offers in public service. This is a great resource for students, recent graduates, career changers, and veterans. I like the exercises in the beginning of the book that helps you unravel your personality type: What did you study in college? What kinds of issues do you feel most passionate about? What is your preferred work style? What are your personal and career goals? I also like the quotes by famous individuals throughout the book because it is both inspirational and uplifting.

Once you read this book, you will feel more prepared than ever because her advice and tips have helped hundreds of people pursue public service careers. If this sounds like the right book for you, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Career Advice from U.S. News

Job searching and interviewing for a new position in this economy is never an easy task. Do you ever wonder how can you ace your next interview? I discovered more valuable career advice articles from U.S. News below:

Meanwhile, Mother Jones recently published this blog post, A Good Job Is Hard to Find. Sadly, the news isn't positive:
A good job is one that pays $37,000 (the median wage for men in 1979), includes at least some health insurance, and some kind of retirement plan. It doesn't have to be generous health coverage or a generous retirement plan. Mediocre health plans with big copays still count, and modest 401(k) retirement plans count. The job just has to include something.
...
Overall, the number of workers with good jobs has declined from 27% to 24% since 1979.

If you love these tips, then visit the On Careers blog on U.S. News.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SWT: ‘Case’ and ‘Cause’ in Social Work Education — A Balancing Act

In case you missed the March/April 2012 issue, Social Work Today magazine published a story about the challenges of teaching both micro and macro approaches in social work education.

I never read this book, Unfaithful Angels. However, I agree with Specht that contemporary social work has become too engrossed with clinical training methods and neglected its macro practice roots (social reform and political action). I believe social workers don't truthfully follow the NASW Code of Ethics because we're not visibly involved in political matters that resonates with millions of ordinary people in America (e.g., Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Student Debt).
In the preface of Harry Specht and Mark Courtney’s book Unfaithful Angels, Specht laments what he sees as social work’s drift away from social justice: “When I first came to know social workers half a century ago, they had a mission that was, to me, appealing and significant: to help poor people, to improve community life, and to solve difficult social problems. But times have changed. Today, a significant proportion of social workers are practicing psychotherapy, and doing so privately, with a primarily middle-class, professional, Caucasian clientele” (p. ix-x).

As long as states only mandate licensure for clinical training, many prospective social work students will not pursue the macro social work concentration route. For instance, while Michigan is progressive in providing licensure options for macro practice, a majority of social workers in the state still focus on clinical training. The dominance of clinical work programs across the country will continue to erode the perception and significance of macro social work in real-world settings.

Despite the historical debate about social work’s role as a case or cause profession, it is clear that the majority of students entering educational programs today want to pursue careers as clinicians. The popularity of clinical work may have more to do with practical matters than any conscious decision to reject social activism. For example, some students believe they will not be able to pass state licensing exams unless they take classes focused on service to individuals and families. Another concern is the earning potential to be had in a clinical career vs. one focused on macro-level service.

The predominance of clinical work also is reflected in the method concentrations offered by master’s programs nationwide.

How do you feel about this dichotomy between micro and macro in social work education? Should all master's social work programs offer a generalist program, or there needs to be greater awareness of macro social work among the general public? Personally, once state boards recognize the legitimacy of macro practice in the licensure process, this will encourage students to concentrate in management, communities, and social policies.