Developing a Career in Human Services – Focusing on Social Work

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Developing a career in human services is worthwhile and rewarding. You will be able to directly see the impact that you have on the lives and communities of others, especially when you get into social work. A career in social work will allow you to have an impact on children or perhaps the elderly. Making a commitment to change, and then working towards implementing these positive changes is what you will be focusing on within a social working role (in one shape or another). Developing a sustainable career in human services, and more specifically in social work, requires planning, commitment and dedication. The role can be very frustrating – especially as change can take time. So, you must be realistic when developing a career, and ensure you set yourself targets and goals to work towards (and keep you on track).

Why You Need to Develop a Career in Human Services

If you want to use your skills to help others, then you will be best suited to a role in human services.Human services cover a lot of areas and one of these is social work. You have a lot of skills and attributes to add to a career in social work already, and when you put these together with what such a career can offer you, you see that job satisfaction is just around the corner. If you like a challenge, and if you like varied work, then a role in social work is the right opportunity for you. Social work is a career path that can make a real change or difference in the lives of others. There are lots of families and individuals that need support, help and assistance, and within a social working role, you will be able to help in any way that you can. You will be able to carry out assessments and interviews, and you will be able to put together casework that will help to establish the best way forward.

Social Work Can Help You Make a Difference

You may not always see the difference that you help to make, however, that doesn’t mean that it is not being seen (or even felt by others). Social work at all levels can make a difference in the everyday lives of people, and when you can help to make this difference, you can be sure that you enjoy each day at work (instead of dreading it). The actions that you take within your role will play an active part in making a difference, and if you want to be part of positive changes and differences (and not simply talking about it all of the time), then you need a role like those within social work. It is important to realize that you may not always make waves in your work; however, that does not mean that you will not make ripples.

Advancing Your Knowledge and Education

To land the role that you want to in social work, it is important to focus on advancing your education and knowledge. Studying for a specialist program, such as a Master of Social Work will provide you with the knowledge, information and education that you need to thrive in any role that you find yourself in. When you focus on expanding your knowledge you commit to the role, and this is the kind of commitment you will have throughout your career. Doing the best that you can in your studies will then resonate with others, as well as throughout your career. When you focus on your education, you then build up your knowledge. Experience will come over time (and it will come alongside increased knowledge and awareness). Focusing on your education and learning what skills are required will allow you to get to grips with what social work is about and what role you will play. A strong educational background will pave the way for a strong and long-lasting career, so think carefully about where you want to study to fully ensure that you get the most out of your studies.

Getting the Most Out of Your Studies

Studying at any time and at any age can be challenging, especially when you are trying to balance everything else you have going on within your life. To ensure that you get the most out of your studies, you have to be realistic and you have to be careful with your time.  Learning and even mastering a new topic or subject area can take time, and it can certainly take patience. It is important that you are kind to yourself and easy on yourself. Set small learning targets and goals to help you achieve a bigger learning goal. Get to grips with why you want to work in social work and establish what your end goal is. When you have a purpose for your studies, you then have dedication and motivation in abundance, which you possibly didn’t even realize you lacked before.

Putting Your Knowledge into Practice

Getting that first role straight after finishing your studies can be challenging and it can be eye-opening. It sometimes helps to have a mentor supporting you along the way, and it sometimes also helps to be realistic about the roles you will get – especially at the start of your career. You may find that you will be lucky, and this will mean you will land your perfect role the first time around. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes you have to put aside the dream role to get some experience in the first role that you get. Putting your knowledge into practice is the most important aspect you need to focus on, especially in those first few months of a new career. The experience that you can build upon will be used in future roles, and this is why it is important not to overlook its importance.

Choosing a Specialism

As social work covers a lot of areas, it is important to choose a specialism as soon as you are able to (and as soon as you feel confident enough to). For example, do you want to turn your efforts onto supporting the elderly, or would you prefer to turn your attention and effort onto children’s welfare? What is important to you, and where would you like to make an impact? When you can decide on a specialism, you can then start pursuing relevant roles and opportunities. If you are having trouble deciding on an area of specialism then think about what each area and opportunity has to offer and weigh up the advantages and possible disadvantages.

Setting Out Career Plans

Once you have decided what specialism you want to pursue, you then need to set about creating a career plan. Getting the most out of your career is key to your success, and to ensure that this happens, you need to have a plan to work towards. A career plan within social work does not have to be set in stone, and it is quite important that it is fluid. However, it does need to be in place if you want to get the most out of what you do within your role (and what you can do). If you do not have a career plan to follow, then you may find that your attention can go off-course. You may also find that you never realize your full and true potential. When you are writing a career plan, try to focus on short term aspirations, such as where you want to be within one year, as well as longer-term aspirations (such as five years plus).

The Skillset a Social Worker Needs

To be the best within your social working role, it is important that you focus on developing and strengthening a core skillset. This skillset will put you in good stead throughout your career and will ensure that you get the most out of your role at all times. When you are building your skillset, it is important to focus on the following skills:

  • Integrity – How you adhere to your moral and ethical principles is important because these are going to guide you throughout your career.
  • Attentive and Excellent at Listening – You have to be an excellent listener, no matter your role or position within social work. You have to listen to those within your team or department, as well as to those who you are helping and assisting.
  • Compassion, Patience and Empathy – Every case you are involved in is different and it is important that you are patient, compassionate and sympathetic to everyone you help or assist.
  • Excellent communication skills – Being able to communicate at all levels is just as important as being able to listen effectively.
  • Ability to Set Boundaries – Social work is challenging, and to overcome the challenges you face it is important to set and stick to boundaries.

Continued Learning and Developing

All throughout your career within social work, it is important to focus on continuous learning and development. Being in a position to connect with the latest technological advances, such as those advances in EMR technology, and being able to grow and build your skill set, and knowledge will help you be a truly outstanding care professional.