Do you have a social work niche or specialize in working with a specific population?
The notion that every social worker should work in child welfare to gain experience and really understand social work is flawed. Staff turnover and social worker burnout are prevalent due to issues like high caseloads, vicarious trauma, and lack of resources. Child abuse and neglect, sexual assault, and domestic violence are 3 areas/populations that I knew for sure in before I entered undergraduate that I did not want to spend 8 hours of my day and years of my life working with. I know both my triggers and my limitations. I cannot give my best in a situation that saddens and drains me. I also didn’t want to get so jaded that I am no longer deeply impacted by this kind of trauma. Every client deserves our best and I don’t regret my decision at all.
I never wanted to be a clinician. When I worked in a residential program, we were required to have a supervised counseling session. I sat in the room with my client while being observed behind a one-way mirror. Hated it. My first-year internship in grad school was clinical and I co-facilitated a social skills group, worked with an individual client, and worked with a family. The belief was that I needed the clinical skills and experience to increase my social work opportunities. Even though I’ve been told for years that I have good clinical skills/instincts, those experiences confirmed what I knew all along – being a therapist is not for me. I am clear on the difference between crisis management and therapy and know enough to make a referral and not work outside of my comfort and competency. I’m reminding us again that social work is more than therapy.
Have you been told that you need to start your career in child welfare or that you need clinical experience or that working in a school is the best way to get summers off or that if you want to make a lot of money you should work in a big hospital? Just because that worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s what is best for you.
You can social work differently!
I am a Social Work Career Empowerment Coach committed to eliminating the old, narrow view of social work.
- Love animals? Veterinary Social Work
- Want to support families with deployed heads of household? Military Social Work
- Concerned about environmental racism? Environmental Social Work
- Committed to eradicating disciplinary practices that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline for minority students? Political Social Work
- Angered by elder abuse? Geriatric Social Work
We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of social work career opportunities.
My career goal is to empower social workers to believe that they can do anything that they want to do professionally with their social work degrees.
If you’re ready for your next level, the On My Terms private leadership development coaching program was created to take you (awesome high-performing woman of color in social work leadership) through my 3 step Strategic Career Management career coaching framework – Clarity, Credibility, Congruency – with discussion and activities to enhance personal, professional, and leadership skills. Work one-on-one with me in the program to focus on common career challenges including mindset, confidence, job search strategy, brand development, networking, and interviewing.
A long, successful social work leadership career that you love is possible for you and available to you.
APPLY to my On My Terms leadership development coaching program to move beyond the limitations and misconceptions of the social work profession and step into your power as a leader and trailblazer.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, supports high-performing women of color in social work leadership in developing careers that feed their hearts, minds, and wallets. 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, volunteer recruitment and retention, and social impact programming. 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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