With Thanksgiving just behind us and continuing in the holiday season, many of us take time to express thanks and feel gratitude about the bounty we have. Most of us are thankful for our families, friends and other loved ones. We feel thankful for the health we may have, the material things we have acquired, laughter, children, moments of joy, and even just being alive
People often say they are thankful to have a job and a way to provide for themselves and those they love. I rarely hear people say they are thankful for the career they have chosen because it ignites their passions. My wish for everyone is not only do they have a job that pays the bills but a career that gratifies and feeds their soul. I am grateful to have found that career in social work. If you are thinking about becoming a social worker, are a social worker or even know a social worker, check below for the list of reasons I am grateful for this calling.
- I have met and connected with so many people throughout my career. I have been given the honor to witness their stories. I get to know individuals that I may never have even come across in my life if I had chosen a different career path. This opportunity to really join with so many different individuals can be awe inspiring.
- Social Work is a field with a sense of purpose. It may not be true for everyone but I know I am happier at a job that has meaning.
- I have the chance to help heal those who feel irreparably broken and those without hope.
- I may spark someone to see possibilities they didn’t believe could happen and help shift someone’s perspective so their world opens up a bit.
- There are so many opportunities in social work. I started my career working with children and families and now I work in the health field and have a private practice. How great is a career that truly allows for the worker to adjust and find a different way to serve as they grow and change.
- Flexibility – It isn’t true for all social work jobs but often there is a high level of flexibility in social work. I may not always work the best hours but virtually every one of my jobs allowed me to make my own schedule much of the time.
- The core belief of person in environment. Social Work believes that individuals don’t live in a vacuum. Individuals have personal responsibility and choices but they are part of bigger picture. Individuals are part of a family, friends, schools, communities and other systems.
- Social Work recognizes that that institutional racism, poverty and other societal affects are real and are taken into consideration when being a change agent.
- The value of self-determination. Respecting an individual’s right to make decisions for themselves. People know themselves best and this field respects that it is not up to the professional to get clients to live as the social worker thinks they should but to live their own life.
- Social work is strengths based. The deficits in people’s lives are easy to find but looking at the strengths is both hopeful and helpful and can be a catalyst for change.
- The responsibility and expectation even to challenge the status quo and authority when it is oppressive or hinders an individual or community.
- Responsibility to look at my own biases and gain insight into myself.
- Creativity – The world isn’t black and white and often our solutions aren’t clear so a social worker gets to be creative in finding ways around barriers.
- Meeting clients where they are. Social worker encourages practioners to be non-judgmental and not try to push people to go where I want them to go.
- Being encouraged to continually learn. I remember being told in my BSW days that people are complicated and there is no way to ever know everything there is to know about people so I will always be gathering more information. It is hard to get bored at a job where there is always something more to know.
- You are encouraged to help shape policy. Social workers often have the opportunity to work with the groups who make the policy. Social Workers are encouraged to let their voice be heard!
- Social Work is congruent with my values on human rights and social justice. I can speak up about my beliefs. I can also be the voice for someone who has no voice.
- Teaching and passing on any wisdom I’ve gained. Social workers collaborate and share information. I love being able to share what I have learned through the years with others – just as I love others teaching me a thing or two.
When I became a social worker I had no idea the journey I would take. I have had difficult, stressful and tedious jobs at times. I have worked horrible hours at other times. When I chose social work as a career everyone told me that I would make no money. Early in my career that was typically true but as I have advanced I have learned (and hope more social workers realized) that serving as a social worker and earning a solid, living wage is not mutually exclusive.) Despite the rough times I love being a social worker and really can’t imagine another path for me.
I think the global definition of social work sums it up. What a magnificent field with which to be involved.
“Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. “ (Definition was approved by the IFSW General Meeting and the IASSW General Assembly in July 2014)