I love the social work career that I have created but I also understand that periodically I must reflect and reevaluate my professional decisions and opportunities. This blog is for those of us with years of planning, giving, and doing under our belts.
In March 2014, I wrote a blog called Tips for New Social Workers. As we celebrate National Social Work Month 2015, I want to offer tips for my experienced social workers.
1. Examine your heart
When you are in a profession that requires you to continually encourage and support and advocate for others (especially vulnerable populations) it is easy to become overwhelmed or to burn out. Take some time to reflect on your current position and career goals. If your heart is no longer in it then it is time to move on – both you and your clients deserve your best.
2. Use supervision
After years of experience it is easy to become a lone ranger but you do so at your own peril. We all need someone to hear our frustrations, encourage our efforts, and help us come up with innovative solutions to old problems. If you do not have a supervisor on the job who can support you professionally or you are in a solo practice I recommend peer supervision or hiring a supervisor.
3. Don’t take a vow of poverty
Continue to explore ways that you can earn money with your professional skills. Do not stay in a job where you feel you are not being adequately financially compensated for your services. If you really love your job, full-time employees can offer consulting services or become a college professor to gain additional income. Private practice is another way to control your earning.
4. Share your experience
I find that when I teach, train, and mentor, my enthusiasm about my work increases. Most of us joined this field to help others and what better way to help others than to encourage the next generation of social workers to be bold and brilliant?
5. Never stop learning
Professional development is essential. In order to remain professionally relevant and effective you cannot get stagnate. The world is changing and we can be a part of it or be left behind. I encourage you to go beyond the mandated CEU requirements and pursue knowledge and skills that excite you.
Thank you for doing what you do!
Nicki Sanders is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.
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