Jennifer McClendon, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno for the online Master of Social Work program, shares what it takes to be successful in the field of social work.
I think you need to bring a few things into the field with you. Essentially, you need to be curious about people, why they do the things they do.
The second thing is you need to have a desire to create change in people’s lives, so first be curious about them, and second, want to meddle a little bit to help people live stronger and healthier lives.
What we’ll give you over the course of your education are the tools you need to hone and direct your curiosity in the right direction, asking good questions and learning to assess people and communities.
We also give you the tools you need to effectively intervene in people’s lives to create change, by building on theirstrengths as individuals and capitalizing on resources in their communities.
I also think it’s important to mention how important leadership is. It’s one of our required competencies at the graduate level, and for good reason. Creating change is hard work, and it requires us to be able to motivate our clients, the groups and committees we work on, our communities, and even ourselves.
It’s okay if you haven’t mastered leadership skills yet. Many of us are still working on it, but be ready to be challenged in that direction.