Was I Meant to Be a Social Worker? Five Questions to Ask Yourself.
Am I a good communicator?
YES. Communication is one of the most important skills for a social worker. Social workers have to listen to their clients to understand their needs. Social workers must also explain clearly to clients how they are able to help. Social workers must complete written reports for supervisors and organizations that may be able to assist clients. If you’re a good listener, speaker, and writer, you could be an effective social worker.
NO. If your skills need improvement, you can practice listening more in conversations with friends and family. Want to become a better verbal communicator? Ask for feedback on what you can improve from someone you trust, and practice speaking up at work and school. Need to improve your writing skills? Read more (so you are familiar with good written communication), take a writing class, and use tools like spell-check.
Do I have strong critical thinking skills?
YES. Critical thinking means to objectively evaluate and analyze an issue in order to reach a determination. In social work, that means that you take into consideration what your client tells you, what you observe, and the results of any interviews or research you conduct. Through critical thinking, you logically assess all of that information, determine how to proceed, and develop a plan to assist your client. Is critical thinking one of your strong skills? Then you might be a good social worker.
NO. If critical thinking isn’t one of your strong suits, it’s a skill you can practice. You’ll need to gather information from reliable sources and review that information with skepticism. Don’t just accept what you hear or see at face value; consider the emotions and motivations that might be affecting any of your sources of information. Then come to a conclusion and create a plan of action.
Am I patient?
YES. Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight. It can take time for clients to trust you. It can also take a significant amount of time for you to navigate programs and services to get your clients the help they need. Your clients may continue to struggle no matter what assistance you provide. If you can remain patient through it all, social work might be the right career for you.
NO. If patience isn’t one of your virtues, you can try some tactics to develop more of it. When a situation makes you impatient, such as a traffic jam that could make you late to work, identify your emotions. Are you stressed about having enough time to do your work? Are you anxious about how your boss might react? Acknowledge that emotion. Next, reframe the situation: It’s likely an accident or construction that is causing the traffic. It’s not the fault of the drivers around you, nor is it your fault. Last, find a solution or accept the situation. If you can turn down a different street and avoid the traffic, do so and drive safely. If you can’t take another route, accept that you’re stuck, remember that it’s not your fault, and try to make the best of it by singing along to your favorite songs or listening to a podcast you enjoy.
Am I passionate about social issues?
YES. Consider how you feel about immigration, poverty, housing, systemic racism, and criminal justice. Many people feel some level of compassion for people experiencing issues like these, but social workers spend their days trying to end injustice and improve their clients’ lives. Social workers effect social change. If this is your passion, social work can be a fulfilling career.
NO. Social justice is one of the core values of social work,1 according to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. If you’re not passionate about social justice, social work might not be the career for you.
Do I make it a priority to care for myself?
YES. Social work is rewarding … but it’s not always easy. Working with clients who are experiencing injustice, have been victimized, or are traumatized can take a toll on social workers. If self-care is a regular part of your life, great! Your self-care habit will benefit you as a social worker.
NO. If you haven’t made self-care a habit yet, it’s a great idea to start while you go to school to earn a social work degree. Check in on your mental, physical, and emotional state regularly. Practice assessing how you’re doing and trying different ways to help yourself. Eventually you’ll learn what’s most helpful for you, whether it’s taking a bath, going for a walk, calling a friend or family member, getting a massage, talking with a therapist, meditating, or something else. By caring for yourself regularly, you’ll be better able to care for others.
Are you meant to be a social worker? Only you can answer that question. If your answer is yes, you can take the first step by pursuing a degree. Walden University offers both an online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program and an online Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Both social work degree programs are CSWE accredited, meaning they are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Online education enables you to learn from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, without commuting to campus. You can work full time while you earn a degree. With a social work degree, you’ll be ready to begin a fulfilling career helping others.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation, a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Accreditation of a baccalaureate or master’s social work program by the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation indicates that it meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of program quality evaluated through a peer review process. An accredited program has sufficient resources to meet its mission and goals and the Commission on Accreditation has verified that it demonstrates compliance with all sections of the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards.
Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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