Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Review: 101 Careers in Social Work - Third Edition (2019)

101 Careers in Social Work - Third Edition (2019) by Jessica Ritter, Ann Obermann and Kirstin Lindsay Danhoff, is an expanded career guidebook that addresses the breath of the social work profession and the different career options available with a social work degree. The goal of the book is to help readers assess whether they are suited for a career in social work, describe more than 100 distinct career paths for social workers, and provide readers with the tools and resources they need to plan their social work careers, based on their skills and interests. It builds upon the second edition with updated information and new features, such as:

  • Fifteen new personal narratives describing the rewards and challenges of different social work practices
  • A new section highlighting important social and political issues relevant for each social work practice
  • New data on employment opportunities and salaries from the U.S. Department of Labor
  • New resources (books, essays, films and websites) for additional career exploration
The book begins with dispelling myths about the social work profession and how it is different from related fields and disciplines, such as psychology, sociology and counseling. The book is categorized under three sections: a) The Profession of Social Work (which includes an overview and future outlook of social work); b) Careers in Social Work (featuring 14 practice domains); and c) education and job hunting tools and websites (from earning a degree in social work to preparing your future career). 

The featured practice domains comprise of the following:
  • Child Welfare
  • School-Based Social Work
  • Social Work with Older Adults (Gerontology) 
  • Social Work in Healthcare 
  • Mental Health and Addiction
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Criminal Justice and the Legal Arena 
  • International Social Work and Human Rights
  • Poverty and Homelessness
  • Advocacy and the Political Arena
  • Community Practice
  • Human Service Organizations
  • Research and Academia
  • Nontraditional Careers in Social Work (including Dual Degrees) 
Each practice domain chapter includes a wealth of information about various job titles and career paths (e.g., nonprofit agencies, research, and government), core competencies and skills, educational and licensing requirements, best and challenging aspects of the job, compensation and employment outlook, self-assessment questionnaires and checklist to see if the job would be a good fit based on interest and skills.

I enjoyed the section on nontraditional careers in social work because the social work degree is versatile in a variety of professional settings. Social workers can be found as filmmakers, consultants, mediators, journalists, attorneys, and much more! Social workers can pursue a myriad of dual degrees in fields such as law, public health, public policy, nonprofit administration, education/higher education, and so forth. Part of my blog has been to highlight nontraditional careers in social work, particularly for those who specialized in macro practice as administrators, researchers, and advocates/organizers. The social work profession is deeply committed to social justice and helping those in need regardless of practice. 

As a macro practice social work student, this career guidebook was a wonderful resource to help me plan my career path. Social workers can be found creating positive change with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.  I highly recommend this new edition to prospective and current students as well as working professionals and practitioners who want to explore the array of career options in social work. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Social Work History Month 2021: Social Workers are Essential

March is National Social Work History Month. The 2021 theme is " Social Workers are Essential.”  

From the NASW website:

Social workers are essential to community well-being.

As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. They are employed to effect positive change with individuals, families, groups and entire communities.

As a profession, social workers frequently use their collective power to pass laws and establish policies that give more people access to community services and benefits, improving the quality of life for everyone.

Social work is the only helping profession which requires social justice advocacy as part of its professional code of ethics, and is therefore a large workforce mandated to advance the rights of the most vulnerable in society.

For more than 120 years, the social work profession in the United States has helped bend the arc of justice, making our nation a more equitable and inclusive place. 

Read the proclamation here

Social workers aim to improve the lives of children, the elderly, minority groups, disadvantaged populations. The social work profession accomplished major milestones throughout American history.  Social workers and allied professionals (from human services to social policy) have:

  • Achieved the minimum wage and safer workplaces for poor people (Progressive Era)
  • Fought for civil rights and voting rights (Civil Rights Movement)
  • Expanded employment and reproductive rights for women 
  • Supported marriage and employment protections for LGBT people

Social workers can be found in many different specializations, industries and fields requiring different levels of training, education and licensing to fulfill the various roles of advocate, therapist, mediator, researcher, educator, manager, evaluator, facilitator, case manager, administrator, and community change agent. Social workers play a vital role in helping to create programs and policies that make society a better and more equitable place for all. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed major racial, gender and socioeconomic disparities in access to health care, employment, and critical supplies. This is a crucial time for social workers, especially macro social workers, to enhance the lives of the disadvantaged through advocacy, research, education and support. 

For more information about National Social Work History, browse the websites below:

For more information about the social work profession's response to COVID-19, check out these websites:

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: The CQ Press' Career Guide for Public Sector Students (2020)

The CQ Press' Career Guide for Public Sector Students (2020) by Michelle C. Pantz is an informative book on careers in government and the nonprofit community. Geared towards undergraduate and graduate students, the booklet provides essential steps on finding your passion and the steps to pursue it. Professor Pautz (who has a background in public administration) guides the reader through an introduction to the public sector, recommended curriculum considerations, supplemental opportunities and experiences outside the classroom, and career profiles of individuals currently working in the public sector. Lastly, the book provides a career checklist with valuable insights on resume building, social media strategies, and networking.

This book has two major strengths. First, the application activities encourages readers to set personal and professional goals. These activities are motivating because you can discover new ideas and identify your academic and professional interests. Second, the curricular and co-curricular options enable students to develop a better understanding of how to tie their major and interests to the workplace. Too often, students believe they must major in traditional fields such as political science to pursue a successful career in the public sector. The truth is any major is sufficient as long as you gain knowledge and skills in the area that you wish to work. For example, a student who wants to specialize in social policy can major in, for example, sociology or social work, and link their research interests and co-curricular activities (e.g., internships, volunteer service) to a particular area within social policy (e.g., access to health care, poverty reduction, education, or labor). Employers care more about how your academic, research, and professional experiences can enhance the organization.

Once students have chosen their research area of interest, they should create an e-portfolio or master resume of their accomplishments in college. Professor Pautz suggests also graduate and professional school as an option to gain new skills and specialized knowledge as well as accelerate career growth. Examples form the booklet include earning a Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Public Administration (MPA), or Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) for example. I would go one step further and recommend other applicable fields such as a Master of Social Work (MSW) with a specialization in macro practice, Master of Public Health (MPH) with a specialization in health education or health policy, or a Master of Arts in Education (MA) with a specialization in public policy. These programs exist and require extra diligence and effort on your part. Research the different programs' websites for admissions requirements, attend graduate school and career fairs in your region (e.g. Idealist Graduate Fair), or speak to career services at your alma mater.

Overall, this is a useful guide for any student or early career changer who is new to the public sector. It is well organized, practical with action items, and easy to follow. I would have found this book (less than 50 pages in length) very convenient during my undergraduate studies.