Social work is one of the top choices for career options for a lot students (Humprey, 2011). Many people go into the social work profession because it “can provide job satisfaction and contribute to our sense of meaning and purpose in life” (Humprey, 2011). This what it felt like for me when I was deciding what career I wanted to pursue after high school. I want to go into social work because of my personal experience and I thought it would bring meaning to my life (Humprey, 2011). Throughout this paper, I will be describing what contributed to my interest in social work and how it impacted my life. Next, I will be providing a personal reflection on a characteristic/attribute that contributes to my readiness for a career in social work. Finally, I will be outlining one characteristic that I have that I think may present challenges to being an effective social worker.
What I think contributed to my interest in social work is my own personal experience. When I was thirteen years old, my parents got divorced. It had a major impact on my life and turned my world upside down. During this time frame, I sought counseling and also attended a healthy relationships class. Throughout the class, I realized that not only did I enjoy the material I was learning, but that it changed me. I knew this was where I wanted to be. I want to help people the same way the social workers who taught the class helped me. They were the people I look up to. The ones I could go to for support. They inspired me to do better and be the best version of myself. It was there that I realized that I felt called to be a social worker. I want to share my personal experiences with my future clients and make an impact on people’s lives who have gone through similar experiences like me. I feel like the content of the text relates to my own life when they are talking about “the three main biographical routes into social work the service user, personal carer, and citizen routes (Humprey, 2011). According the the example I have just given, I would place myself in the service user route because “Students who travelled along the service user road are those who suffered extreme adversity in their own lives which positioned them as a service user” (Humprey, 2011). After reading this in the text I realized that this defined me. The whole reason why I decided to pursue social work was because of my complex experience I had with my family.
One personal attribute/characteristic I possess that contributes to my readiness for a career in social work is flexibility (Sussman, T., Bailey, S., Richardson, K. B., & Granner, F, 2014, par. 33). I think flexibility is one of my strongest attributes/characteristics that I possess because I practice it on an everyday basis at my job (Sussman, T., Bailey, S., Richardson, K. B., & Granner, F, 2014, par. 33). I work in a fast food restaurant and at times things do not always go as planned. I have to adapt and be flexible. Last week when I was at work, four people were scheduled to work with me but only two came in. Unfortunately for us, we were really busy that night. Between the three of us we divided all of the side jobs that were required of us to do that are originally meant for five people. When we were doing orders during the night we started to get behind. So I went and got a manager to help us which made things a lot better. Overall, the night went really well. My coworkers and I completed everything. We even got to go home early. Things in that situation could have gone a lot differently if my coworker and I decided not to be flexible. Thankfully, we made the most of the situation we were given. The side jobs could have been left unfinished and if I didn’t go and tell a manager when things started to get busy we could have gotten really behind on orders. If that had happened it could have caused customer complaints and we would have gotten written up. According to the study done in text, “Field instructors in both micro and macro practice continually talked about some of the attributes or personal qualities they felt were necessary for social work graduates” (Sussman, T., Bailey, S., Richardson, K. B., & Granner, F, 2014, par. 33). One of those attributes was flexibility and I feel that I have that attribute and I practice it frequently. I also think that it will help me become a good social worker because in the social work profession “counselling, interviewing, and therapy can take place outside of the formal office” (McGann, 2020, slide 14). My future job might require me to stop what I am doing at the time and go meet my client at wherever they are at (McGann, 2020, slide 14). Whether that be at clients home that’s thirty minutes away or at a coffee shop just down the road (McGann, 2020, slide 14). I need to be flexible. I think that the experiences I have had at my job that I have been at for the past three years like the one I mentioned has contributed to the tools and skills that I will need to go into the social work profession one day.
One characteristic that I have that I think may present challenges to being an effective social worker is that I am a perfectionist. I think this might present challenges for me being an effective social worker specifically when I use the “microskills hierarchy for interviewing, counseling, and psychotherapy”(Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M.B., & Zalaquett, C.P., 2018). I think that it will be challenging for me to use paraphrasing with my client because of my perfectionism. I’ll be so worried about collecting all the information the client is telling me (Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M.B., & Zalaquett, C.P., 2018). As well as trying to remember in my head or writing it down to repeat it back that I won’t actually be hearing what they are saying (Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M.B., & Zalaquett, C.P., 2018). I’m also afraid that I will pause and forget what I’m discussing with the client. Then I will think that they are not getting the proper service that they came for. For example, in the last weeks social work class we had to get into groups of three to practice some of the microskills. Each person had a different part to play (McGann, 2020, slide 34). One person was the “interviewer, another interviewee, and the observer” (McGann, 2020, slide 34).When I was playing the part of the interviewer I was asking questions and practicing paraphrasing (McGann, 2020). During the interview, I got so caught up with the paraphrasing that I stopped and forgot what I discussing at the time (McGann, 2020). It was embarrassing. I was so focused on trying to be the perfect social worker that it hindered my effectiveness a social worker. If I had been with a real client it could have taken away from their experience and affected them negatively. Although being a perfectionist might present challenges in my future with clients. I’ve also come to learn that “it feels mechanical at first, it’s hard to observe and use skills at the same time, it gets better over time, and the only way I’m going to do that is by practicing” (McGann, 2020).
In conclusion, social work is one of the most prominent career choices and as described in my paper it was one of my top choices as well and what factors played a part in contributing to that decision (Humprey, 2011). My paper also outlines the attributes and characteristics that I think contributes to my readiness, and what attribute could be a challenge for a career in social work.
- Humphrey, C. (2011). Chapter 2: Students’ Journeys. Becoming a Social Worker: A guide for students (pp. 19-34). London: Sage.
- Ivey, A. E., Ivey, M.B., & Zalaquett, C.P. (2018). Chapter 1: Toward intentional interviewing, counseling, and psychotherapy. Intentional interviewing and counseling: Facilitating client development in a multicultural society (9th ed., pp. 3-26). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
- [bookmark: _v0byvg55zlbq]McGann, Jacqueline. (2020). Week 3: Intro to Micro Skills, Attending & Listening Skills. Social work 1026B. Section 571. Retrieved January 27, 2020, from chrome-extension://bpmcpldpdmajfigpchkicefoigmkfalc/views/app.html.
- Sussman, T., Bailey, S., Richardson, K. B., & Granner, F. (2014). How Field Instructors Judge BSW Student Readiness for Entry-Level Practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 50(1), 84–100. doi: 10.1080/10437797.2014.85623.