If you are interested in pursuing a career that allows you to help other, becoming a social worker might be the perfect fit for you. Describing a career in the field of social work isn’t easy, like most careers, surprises do come with the job. Although ultimately rewarding, social work can be challenging and scary, as it deals with people’s lives. Social workers are on the front lines, devoting their time and energy to assisting and providing resources for life improvements to our society’s most vulnerable members.
With the gap between the rich and the poor continuing to rise, so too do other social issues like unemployment, mental illness, substance abuse and violence. Likewise, employment of social workers is projected to increase by 19% from 2012 to 2022, a growth rate faster than the average for all occupations. We’ve put together a list of things you should know about pursuing a career in social work.
- Every case, situation, family and person is unique and should be treated that way. Even though a new assignment may seem similar to a previous case or easier to handle, it’s important to remember that every case is unique and deserves to be treated that way. Everyone has unique strengths, issues, personalities and skills, so it is important to start every assignment with an open mind.
- For cases that involve children, whether child protective services, a counselor, child care provider, or any position with the responsibility to report possible child abuse situations, it is important to remember that you have the most power. Parents will have a difficult time speaking to you if they are afraid of the consequences of their actions. Without an equal or mutual relationship established, parents tend to be dishonest because they believe you are smarter, more capable and more powerful than they are. As a result, parents may only tell you what they think you want to hear because social workers are the “they” that they fear. Instead of abusing your power, keep in mind the more fair you make it, the more compassionate and honest you are, the more the parents will trust and confide in you.
- Although social workers may have the law on their side and impressive degrees, our clients know a great deal of information that we don’t, for example intimate knowledge of their own family or daily lives. Also as a social worker, it is important to understand that listening will always more beneficial than talking. When we take the time tolisten, you can learn from our client and ultimately do a better job of helping them. Listening help us all end up ahead.
- It is important to understand that people treat other based on how they have been treated. When you encounter a recipient of your service who is facing difficulties, they may yell at you or swear at you because this is what they know. As humans, we act in ways according to what we have learned, especially from our own families. In some situations, they may not have learned to be conscious of how they treat others, or that problems can be solved without yelling. As a social work, it is important to not take their behavior personally. If we engage in an argument or become defensive, who will they have to listen and help them?
- Finding compassion for another adult can be challenging, especially towards those who has done things of which we don’t approve. However, if we take the time to listen, their behavior or actions can begin to make some sense. When you begin to understand people, it is much easier to care for them. Recognizing that people tend to do the best they can at any moment will help you guide them in making little steps in the right direction. As a social worker, we must understand that shame and punish doesn’t help people change, hope and guidance does.
As scary and challenging as social work can be, helping others through difficult times makes the job worth it. If you are looking to pursue a career in social work, it is important to be a good listener, compassionate, honest and trustworthy person. People need to know you care and believe in them.