I Feel Stuck In Social Work, Now What?


What did you learn in social work school about career opportunities? Career advancement strategies? Leadership?

How is that working out for you?

I’ve encountered so many social workers, including students, who feel stuck in social work. They don’t see a way up or a way out.

Why is this so prevalent?

It’s prevalent because of the indoctrination we received in the classroom and in our field placements. It’s prevalent because our first supervisors and coworkers spread the same myths and misconceptions. It’s prevalent because the digital social work support groups we’ve joined perpetuate the same indoctrination from different places all over the country. It’s prevalent because we’ve heard it so often and witnessed it so frequently that collectively we have accepted it as truth.

Indoctrination in social work looks like:

  • We’re in it for the income and not the outcome.
  • Your career options are limited if you don’t get your license.
  • You have to work outside of the profession if you want to make real money.
  • Social work is exhausting but rewarding.
  • Promotion of therapy and child welfare as “real” social work”.
  • The Veteran’s Administration is the main federal agency that hires social workers.

But it’s not true and it doesn’t have to be this way!

  • Research is a valuable social work skill. It’s time to do your career research.
  • Resource development is a valuable social work skill. It’s time to implement appropriate resources.
  • Collaboration is a valuable social work skill. it’s time to connect with social workers who are achieving success in the ways that speak to you.

Social work career development and advancement are my specialties. I successfully REJECT the harmful indoctrination.

Here is my philosophy on the social work profession:

  • I believe social work education (bachelors, master’s, or doctoral degree) from an accredited school of social work makes one a social worker.
  • I believe that social workers should be paid more for our education and expertise.
  • I believe that all clinical social work students should take a few macro courses.
  • I believe that licensing should be the same across all 50 states.
  • I believe that the BSW and LMSW licenses are gatekeeping, not title protection.
  • I believe that all clinicians/therapists should be licensed (LCSW or LCSW-C).
  • I believe that a macro and/or mezzo license could be a game-changer because it shows equal value for these practice areas.
  • I believe that it’s all social work and after 30 years I still love social work.

If you are ready to shift out of neutral and elevate your social work career, I am accepting new private coaching clients.

If you are a woman of color in social work leadership who is ready to elevate in your career, APPLY HERE for my On My Terms Private Coaching package today.



Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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