What Was Your Motivation for Pursuing a Career in Social Work?

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Jennifer Pierce, MSW Assistant Field Education Coordinator, and Dorothy Farrel, D.M., M.S.W., Clinical Associate Profession Coordinator, at the University of Nevada, Reno, go over their motivation for pursuing a career in social work.


I knew that I wanted to start social work after the experience I had in my undergraduate degree. As I started working on my bachelor’s degree I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to take. I knew I wanted to work with people. So, I volunteered for a crisis hotline and the first call I ever received was from a young man, I’ll never forget. He was calling feeling relatively helpless and hopeless and two hours later at the end of the call he told me “Thank you, for listening” and all he really needed for affirmation that somebody in this world cared. And it’s since that phone call I’ve been assured that social work has been the right path for me. I was in a grocery store and saw an issue of time magazine featuring a young girl in New York who’d been abused and murdered by her mother. The article detailed the failures of the Child Protective Services system to intervene and save her. I was mesmerized. I finally had a name for what I wanted to do – child welfare social work. The next semester I secured my field placement with the Oregon department of human services and fell in love with the work. So began my career in social work. I earned my MSW and spent approximately 15 years doing child welfare work. And I still have that magazine and keep it as a reminder of the little girl that inspired me.