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.
I’ve been pulled in two directions… I have to balance a tug of war between my competing attractions: international human rights and social work. One day, my thoughts slowly drift into an international world of theory. My brain is twisted in a million ways, forced to conceptualize the complexities of human rights and human wrongs. And then, the cloud that surrounds my thoughts dissipates and forces me to fall to land where community social work practice is my mantra.
It has been difficult to balance this double attraction, this multidimensional gravitation that seems to make my life incredibly complicated and incredibly interesting simultaneously. But…it is a worthwhile endeavor. I feel like my brain is being worked in every way possible, forced to understand the delicate and necessary balance between theory and practice. Who says I can’t have the best of both attractions?
Studying both international human rights and social work has opened my eyes to the diversity of options that lay before me as I enter the professional world. This coming summer, I will have to opportunity to spend two months in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I will have an international social work field placement that integrates my intersecting interests. It will allow me to explore international opportunities for professional development and understand the complexities of NGOs and international nonprofits. Importantly, knowledge from my international human rights education has opened my eyes to transnational migration flows that lead many people to the United States, people with whom I interact daily in my current field placement with a community organizing nonprofit. A global knowledge base contributes greatly to my understanding of social work practice and is increasingly important in our transnational world. Ultimately, I hope it leads me to an academic social work position, where I can work with future students in the classroom and contribute to scholarly knowledge about the intersection of globalization and social work.
1st year students have begun the process of looking for their second year internship placements. Last night GSSW hosted their annual Field Fair, an event that brings internship hosts and students together. The fair allows students to meet and ask questions about field placements, get a feel for supervisors, and make an initial impression on the supervisors.
The event can be a bit overwhelming as there are a few hundred people in the room but it is a GREAT way to mark people off of your list if you learn information that deters you but it’s, more importantly, a great way to solidify what you want to do and where you want to intern next year.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be making initial contacts (again) and scheduling interviews with internship hosts. Ideally, we’ll have and know our placements by the end of this quarter. Although it will be a stressful few weeks, the pay off will be worth it!
Spring Quarter of your concentration year brings some interesting challenges, what will I do after graduation?!?! However, for some students like myself, you will get hired by your internship placement before graduation. That challenge: How do you balance trying to finish your coursework while making great first impressions and learning your new job? I tried to strategically plan this by taking extra courses in previous courses so that I can be one course lighter this quarter. Also, I am able to role my field hours into my work hours so I don’t need to be working 64 hours a week! Let me tell you that I do feel very overwhelmed by this idea, but I feel confident in my ability to time manage and that my supervisor understands that I do need to be in class 6 hours a week and we schedule my hours around that. It will be a rough 8 weeks, but the peace of mind of be employed is worth dealing with a little bit more than I would like on my plate.
With transitioning from the classroom to practicing in the field I am eager to utilize all that I have learned in the classroom and through field experiences. I am also ready to learn how I can best effect clients and families.
The following track / certificate / program information sessions are intended for students as they plan their concentration for the academic year 2011-2012. Requirements and specific offerings change from year to year, so always check your student handbook for accurate information.
Continue reading “Track / Certificate / Program Information Sessions 2011 part 2 (VIDEO)”
As social workers, we learn about the importance of advocacy and empowerment. We are called to work with and serve those most marginalized and oppressed in our communities, but often forget that as students and professionals, we must also advocate for our own needs and learning opportunities. We each come into the profession with a unique set of goals about how we hope to learn and impact change, and often, in order to achieve those goals, we must be able to advocate for ourselves to create a constructive and challenging learning environment. Here are some advocacy tips:
Critically assess your own needs and have a firm grasp over your personal and professional expectations.
Work on creating open and transparent relationships with professors and field instructors/supervisors in order to allow for respectful and valuable dialogue.
Develop relationships with peers and colleagues to not only challenge and learn from one another, but also create a healthy learning environment in the classroom.
Maintain confidence in your own capacity and push and challenge yourself to build the networks needed to reach your academic and professional goals.
Although I have always known that I wanted to go into the field of social work, it seems like my choice in concentration within the field changes on a weekly basis. Coming into graduate school, my ultimate goal was to run my own non-profit that brings service-learning into the schools and into after school programming, specifically targeting high-risk populations of youth. During my first quarter of school I constantly went back and forth between the clinical and community track. I am passionate about working with high-risk youth so part of me wanted to focus on the clinical high-risk youth track, but another part of me wanted to learn the skills I would in the community track because they would be extremely beneficial to my ultimate career goals. By the end of my first quarter, I had settled on the clinical track because I want to have a clinical internship (specifically school social work) next year and not a community internship.
Throughout this whole decision process, I had also been considering participating in the animal-assisted therapy certificate. This past week, GSSW provided information sessions on the different certificates so I decided to attend the animal-assisted session. Even though I thought it was definitely something I wanted to do, I found that I was in it for the wrong reasons. I think that involving animals in therapeutic programs is a really interesting concept. The classes required for the certificate are very focused on the science behind animal-assisted therapy and it just isn’t something I’m interested in learning about.
I have been working with a family at my internship this year that has dealt with a lot of trauma and it has become a passion of mine, so I also decided to attend the information session on the interpersonal trauma certificate. After listening to the director of the program talk about the certificate, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to do. In order to complete the certificate, your second year field placement needs to be focused on working with clients who have experienced some kind of trauma. I have decided that I really want to try out school social work next year and, luckily, it looks like there are plenty of school sites that offer trauma related social work internships. So, I decided that when I grow up, I want to be a school social worker focusing on interpersonal trauma!
To all of you who are still undecided about what you want to concentrate your studies on, please don’t worry about it!! Your first year at GSSW is all about figuring out who you are and what you are passionate about, so enjoy every second of it and take advantage of all of the learning opportunities you can. I promise you will figure it out (even if it changes every week for your entire first year)!!