When Should I Discuss Career Plans With My Intern?



Should social work field supervisors discuss career development with their social work intern during supervision?

I say absolutely.  I read an article that says no it should not.


According to this particular article, social work interns don’t want to discuss career plans during supervision.  They want to discuss social work practice, work in the field, and areas where they need to improve.  I don’t understand how career plans don’t fit into that discussion.  Field placement is the start of the professional career. My job as the field instructor is to help the student develop the skills needed to succeed in the profession they plan to enter.  I evaluate my students based on where they are and where they want to go.  I assign tasks and offer opportunities based on where they are and where they see themselves in the future.


A supervisor is someone “delegated to direct, coordinate, enhance and evaluate the on-­‐the-­‐job performance of the supervisee(s) for whose work s/he is held accountable. The primary goal of supervision is the establishment of an on-going relationship in which the supervisor designs specific learning tasks and teaching strategies related to the intern’s development as a professional. The supervisor empowers the intern to enter the profession by helping him/her understand the core competencies of the profession. The supervisor guides the relationship to help him/her achieve success.” (Powell, 1993).


I believe that a good social work field supervisor includes career development time as a regular part of supervision.  I never lecture or offer unsolicited career advice, however, I have found that students struggle to apply classroom knowledge in practice and are also unsure of the professional expectations they must meet.  In addition to tying internship assignments to my intern’s academic requirements, I also tie as many assignments as possible to my intern’s professional goals.


Do you discuss career development with your social work intern during supervision?


Powell, D. (1993). A developmental approach to supervision. In Clinical supervision in alcohol and drug abuse counselling. (p. 58-84). New York, NY: Lexington Books.

an intership is like a test drive NS












Nicki Sanders, The Packaged For Success Coach, is an Adjunct Professor with an extensive background in developing and managing internship programs. She is a skilled program manager, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and 20 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a full service training and professional development company.


© 2016 Copyright Protected. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam