Join the journey of a fairly recently graduated MSW social worker, navigating the expanse of hospice social work in the south, the ups and downs of graduate school, LCSW exam stress and excitement, and preparing for a future in macro social work practice

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In the beginning

I still remember the exact moment that I realized that social work was the profession for me. I was 20 years old, had just finished my second year of college (as an English major). I was spending the summer in Fishkill, NY, working for an organization called the Fresh Air Fund, a non-profit organization that provides a summer camp to children who are living at or below the poverty level in New York City.

I was standing on the boating dock, supervising a small group of 12-year-old boys in the lake. Generally, 12-year-old boys from New York City have not had much experience in boating and swimming, so the sight was rather comical.

As I stood there trying not to laugh at these beautiful children as they attempted to do something that was a slight foreign concept to them, I started to think about how amazing these experiences must be from the perspective of the children experiencing them. Watching these children explore this new world made me rethink my professional goals. I love English. I am passionate about reading and writing, but I had known for awhile that a profession in English wasn’t really for me. I knew who I wanted to be. I knew that I wanted to be in a profession of service. What I couldn’t figure out was the educational path I should take to that profession of service.

From behind, me, I heard the voice of someone calling to me. It was the camp’s assistant director, Kish coming down for a visit. Kish was the first Social Worker I ever knew. I’d always been impressed the gentle softness that existed within her as she interacted with our boys (did I mention that this was a camp for boys ages 9-12? That’s kind of a stressful time for some people…) The conversation we had on that boating dock would change my life (ironically, 5 years later, that same boating dock would be the site of another life-altering experience). Kish introduced me to the field of social work, and invited me to give it a try. I’ll always be grateful for that.

After that day, Kish and I had a number of conversations about the field of Social Work, and about the diverse opportunities that exist in that field. For the first time, I realized that Social Work essentially put a label on all of the things I hoped to accomplish in my life. Social Work is more to me than a program of study; it is a representation of what I want to become in every aspect of my life, not just in my career. I began to view Social Work as something of a calling in my life; something that I know I have the right strengths and experiences needed to be successful.

Six years later, I have a BSW, am working in a hospice (which is a field of social work I never even CONSIDERED entering), and have my first official day of graduate school in t-minus 12 hours. Sweet.

I've always been curious what makes people choose their fields of work. Are you like me and view it as a calling? What are some of the other reasons people choose their fields?

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