Social workers have a substantial role in the betterment of societies the world over. All over the world, there are hundreds of causes that require investments of money and resources, but most of all, they need professionals from various disciplines to dedicate their time. This is where social workers truly come to light as they work within communities and spend time with people while also offering them solutions to their prevalent problems.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 720,000 social workers are currently working across the country. The department has also projected a 13% growth in the job market over the coming decade. Social workers may not be the most highly paid professionals out there, but this field is one of benevolence and passion, which is why monetary incentives are a much lower priority for individuals who pick this field as their career.
If you are someone who is looking to succeed in your career as a social worker, here are a few tips that can help:
- Get the necessary education
If you have spent your life in a different profession and want to switch towards social work, enrolling in masters of social work online programs can be a great stepping stone. These curriculums are designed to impart critical learning and skills about the field, the numerous projects that can be a part of it, and how to effectively handle clients. What’s more is that since these programs are online, they offer convenience and flexibility so you can continue with your current day job as you pursue the degree.
Also, you’ll need to get a license before you can work as a social worker.
- Understand the people you are dealing with
As a social worker, your job entails dealing with various people with interpersonal and social issues. Your priority with each interaction and task is always to promote the well-being and fundamental human rights of the people you work with. Therefore, it is ideal to focus on these people and empathize with them while also continuing to be realistic in your conversations. There is no point in getting their hopes exceptionally high when there are chances that the promises won’t necessarily come good.
During the course of interactions with people, it is vital to be transparent and clear about expectations. Make sure you don’t make up answers for the questions you don’t know the appropriate response to. Also, don’t assume by yourself; ask the person about anything you need clarity on. Think outside the box because innovative solutions work best in this field, and at the same time, flexibility to adjust certain priorities also goes a long way.
- Keep personal emotions out of it
Social work is more challenging than most other professions because where you have the liberty to consider resigning from a job in the corporate world because your manager disrespected you, community assistance is different. People are often suffering and can respond in many ways to you trying to help. These reactions can, at times, be extremely harsh and disrespectful. This is where you need to keep calm and ensure you don’t take what they say personally.
Don’t harbor negative comments hurled at you in your heart since you are a professional working for society’s greater good. Your role entails that you keep a composed and respectful demeanor at all times. Keeping hostility bottled up will result in your bursting into a rage at someone who didn’t deserve it. Understand where the other person is coming from and try to be as forgiving as possible most of the time.
- Be self-aware
When you pursue a career in social work, you are making a choice to undertake morally and ethically sound practices as well as behaviors. In most corporate professions, ethics and moral obligations can take a back seat, but with social work, these factors are of paramount importance. As a result, you must be constantly aware of biases and triggers that can hinder your work on a day-to-day basis.
Also, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has developed a comprehensive code of ethics all social workers must follow. It is crucial that professionals adhere to work boundaries and treat people with the utmost respect while having empathy toward their situations.
- Look for support whenever you need it
Social workers also require guidance and assistance from time to time. Therefore, in a professional capacity, it pays well for you to ask for help regularly. Even when you think you are able to get the job done on your own, get a superior to assess if you are doing a good job. Especially when processing a case or analyzing a client situation, you must get a supervisor to guide you through the process, minimizing the possibility of errors in the paperwork.
Social work is not easy by any means, and thus, it is great to surround yourself with people to emanate positive energy. Even when dealing with a difficult case, these individuals can lift your spirits and motivate you to keep going. Furthermore, there are times when the plight of society you witness can take a toll on your mental health. Don’t be afraid to get therapeutic help in these instances, as it is beneficial for both your personal as well as professional life.
- Don’t neglect yourself
Be mindful of the effects of your career and the consequent trauma that comes with engaging in the helping industry. Witnessing other people’s difficulties on a regular basis can result in work discontent and burnout. Engage in extracurricular activities such as sports, exercise, book clubs, and hobbies. Have fun and mingle! By maintaining healthy habits and eating well, you can also reduce your stress at work.
Social workers are miracle mongers as they hold powerful wands that can make deep and lasting impacts in people’s lives. For the families and communities you help in this profession, there is little else that can hold more importance. As a result, the admiration, love, and esteem that they bestow on you is immense. At the end of the day, this is the highest reward this profession has to offer, and if your heart feels content, social work is the career for you.