I see some student blogs about the Field Fair that was held last week which signals our official start to the internship search for next academic year. Since then, all of our current first year students and our incoming Advanced Standing students have started interviewing for next year’s internships. A few students have found a match but most are still setting up interviews and meeting potential supervisors. At the same time our incoming first year students have also started their search. It’s probably safe to say that it is a rare agency in Denver who is not interviewing students for next year’s internships. If you have decided to come to GSSW and have deposited then you should have heard from our field department about setting up a meeting with one of us. (If you deposited 45 seconds ago then it might be a day or two before you hear from us so hang tight).
Because this is the season for internship searching, we continue to partner with new agencies. Last week brought 10 new agencies to our attention, including clinical sites as well as community internships with some of the highest ranking MSWs in the state. This week we have several more new agencies to visit. When we are out in the community meeting with potential internship agencies, we are always reminded of the social work dedication that is out there in our agencies and organizations. Somebody (a lawyer) recently said to me that he thinks social workers are one of the few remaining groups of people who do things for the right reasons……..I think that is quite a compliment for our profession, don’t you?
While it is always exciting to partner with new agencies, it is also always a treat to see our current agencies at Field Fair. How we manage to fit almost 150 agencies into one place with all of our continuing students is an event-planning feat that could only be accomplished by Andy, our Field Program Administrator. It has come to our attention many times that we are the “Ann & Andy” show and we are often asked where our Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls are–not the most original joke but anyway…. This question took new meaning at the end of Field Fair when our colleague David Rossi took pictures of the field team for the GSSW archives. Included in these pictures, as you can see, are the newest members of the field team–Raggedy Ann & Andy. For the first pictures taken, Andy & I weren’t available so David used the dolls as “place holders” for us–I’m not sure what to think about that but nevertheless…David tells us that these were his dolls from his childhood and that he always was afraid of them. We have assured him that we all have family-of-origin issues to deal with and hopefully he can now begin to put his fear of dolls behind him–he didn’t sound too optimistic about this but we’ll see.
We are very serious about helping students in the internship search process but we also know that in social work, a little laughter goes a long way toward keeping us all going.
We’d love to have you stop by the field office if you are visiting GSSW. You will be greeted by the real Ann & Andy, as well as the rest of our team.
A few weeks ago I presented in a day-long conference called Social Work Forum 2011. This was a day designed for current BSW students and others thinking about getting their MSW. There were representatives from several different MSW programs as well as presenters from a lot of different social work agencies. The idea was to talk about all of the many opportunities that are available to MSW students after graduation. I was really proud to be there from GSSW as I was reminded of the ways that students can specialize in our program both in our tracks and certificates as well as in the field. No other school that was there had such an innovate, specialized program. My mother would have told me that it is not good to be boastful but that is how I felt…….maybe proud is a better word. Our students have so many choices that sometimes the biggest challenge is to narrow down the focus.
This is really true in field and we are so aware of it this time of year. In anticipation of students beginning their search for next year’s internship we are working fast and furiously to update our data base. We are also opening lots of new agencies that want to partner with us for internships. This week we opened agencies dealing with conservation social work, animal-assisted social work, and cutting-edge substance abuse treatment.
The other really exciting thing is that several of our students have been accepted to participate in Project Bosnia, a summer-long internship working in post-war Bosnia, specifically Sarajevo. The students are interested in social justice, conflict resolution, restorative justice, human rights and trauma. I am working on setting up their internships so I am in touch with the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and some of the War Crimes Tribunals. In case you’re curious, here are some pictures of Sarajevo.
While some students intern in Bosnia, China or elsewhere around the globe, many others look for placements in rural Colorado, downtown Denver and everyplace in between. Some students live north of Denver in Boulder and look for internships there while others live about an hour south in Colorado Springs so they want to find an internship down there. That way they only have to drive into Denver for classes and can intern closer to home.
As we gear up for our incoming and continuing students to start searching for next year’s internship, it is a busy, hectic, and exciting time in the field education program.
If only we could pay our internship supervisors for the work that they do with GSSW students. Unfortunately, almost all supervisors and field instructors agree to have a student intern because they are interested in being part of our students’ training and education. Over and over again we hear field instructors say things like “it is my way of giving back to the profession” or “I remember how important my supervisor was to me and I want to help a student learn”. We are very fortunate to have such a large pool of dedicated field instructors.
In order to be a field instructor or MSW supervisor, people must have had their MSW for a minimum of 2 years. They also need to be willing to spend the time that is needed to supervise a student and they need to know their area of social work practice well enough to teach somebody else. They also have to come to a field instructor training here at GSSW. Some of my favorite days here are those when we have supervisor trainings. Our field instructors are totally cool and it is a real treat when they are in the building! They are excited about having students and they really work hard to do a good job. They are open to feedback which goes a long way if there are problems that need to be solved.
We couldn’t do what we do here without the partnership of our field instructors. If you come to GSSW you will interview for your internships. We will encourage you to make sure that you fit well with the person who will be your supervisor. This is sometimes even more important than the setting that you are in or the specific work that you are doing because the most progress toward becoming a professional social worker comes through the guidance of a good supervisor.
Sometimes students intern at a place where they have more than one supervisor. You will always have an MSW supervisor but you might also have what we call a Task Supervisor. Task supervisors need to have an advanced degree and/or need to have been in the field long enough to be able to supervise an MSW student. For example, there might be somebody who has worked in a geriatric setting for 30 years but who does not have an MSW. That extremely experienced person might play a role in your supervision, along with your MSW supervisor. In other situations there might be a psychologist or nurse or teacher or doctor or even a lawyer who will be part of your supervisory team.
Let me know if you have any questions about our internship program. I can “talk internship” all day!
I’ve gotten several questions recently about how we pick our internship sites. There are several ways that agencies and GSSW become partners. Continue reading “How are agencies picked as internship sites?”
It was proven Saturday night that indeed, the only thing worse than my singing is my dancing. In honor of GSSW’s 80th anniversary, we held a student event called Dancing with the Dean. It was a smashing success with students, staff and faculty all learning Continue reading “It’s official! The only thing worse than my singing is my dancing.”
I would imagine that you are nervous thinking about graduate school. I assure you that your nervousness is nothing compared to mine learning how to write a blog. In social work we are always looking to improve our skill set and learning to blog Continue reading “Welcome to Field 101”