Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MSW New Student Orientation

~Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society~

I really enjoyed meeting other new MSW students at the U-M School of Social Work. The admissions staff said we are the most talented incoming MSW class in the school's history. A majority (~70%) of the students are concentrating in direct service with individuals and families (My declared practice method is Management of Human Services, and my practice area is Community and Social Systems.). My information packet contained a list of post-MSW career opportunities. Most MSW graduates in macro social work (my area) enter positions in Social Service Agencies, Community Service Learning Centers, Higher Education, Human Resources, Consulting Firms, Corporations, Research Organizations, and Government (all levels).

The panelists discussed student life, curriculum, career services, and field placement. They stressed assessing your skills, joining professional associations, creating a professional portfolio, establishing relationships with instructors/staff, utilizing the university's many web resources, and being proactive in student organizations. They also explained that it's important for all social work students to obtain micro and macro skills. It's important for me to understand the clients' needs and know the employees' skills if I want to evaluate problems and influence policy.

I also met with my MSW faculty adviser, and she told me that I am exempted from four foundation courses. Those 12 credits will become electives that I can pursue anywhere in the university. I will use 6 credits to complete a minor in Social Policy and Evaluation.

Here are more facts about the U-M School of Social Work:

  • Approximately 320 new students enroll each fall term.
  • Class sizes are generally capped at 25 students (strong focus on small learning communities).
  • The student of color enrollment is approximately 23% and the international enrollment is approximately 2%.
  • Nearly half of the social work students in the school come from out of state.
  • One of the few social work schools to have its own library and career services.

Social work is definitely becoming a more diverse field. I am very satisfied there is a growing interest in macro social work practice because all MSW students need management and policy skills. The Master of Social Work is a professional degree that is very flexible in for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors. People's perception of social work will gradually change as more future social workers (such as myself) enter non-traditional fields.

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