Starting My Education– Pages of a Career Journal

“My Micro/Mezzo Practice 1: Individuals, Families, and Groups course has been really engaging and challenging. The role play has been essential- no wonder you didn’t offer me a job with case management. I simply wouldn’t have any idea what I was doing. Now I am learning! I ask and pray that you instill in me all of the things I need to be a confident SW.”


Rereading this I smile, as I understood my lack of experience and was mature enough to admit it (at least in the private pages of my journal). Admitting your level of knowledge, even to yourself, is a sign of maturity and opens you up to learning. Wanting to know what it was I learned exactly (I found a piece of paper stuck next to this entry- see below), I dug through my old graduate school box to find the syllabus. It read “This is a two quarter course sequence that integrates generalist practice knowledge and skills with knowledge pertaining to human behavior and the social environment, cultural diversity, and social justice. The course sequence prepares students for entry-level generalist practices with individuals, families, and small groups to promote well-being and quality-of-life. Course content is taught through lectures, assignments, and exercises focusing on empirical base practice skills, theories of human development, behavior oppression and discrimination multiculturalism, and competence in working with diverse populations. Note: A $75 fee is required per quarter to cover the cost of training. Standardized clients will be interviewed by students as a means of assessing competency”. Reading that last part I laugh. We got nickeled and dime a lot, but I think this was one of the rare courses that I felt like the money was well spent. The actors were random; the case studies were challenging, the field trips eye opening, and the speakers powerful and raw. The professor who taught the course was amazing, engaging, and fair. She was the first professor in the program who spoke out about grey areas (social work is not all black and white) in her classroom. She built a culture of openness where everyone felt empowered, engaged, and inspired. She encouraged me to become a social worker and to fight to become a clinical social worker. I was grateful to have studied beneath her, for those two courses could have been a career game changer if she would have been a by the book hard ass.

Things to remember:

  1. Everyone on the team matters. No one deserves to be treated poorly.
  2. A word of encouragement can literally make someone’s week. Conversely, a harsh word can ruin it.
  3. Don’t ever intentionally embarrass people, focus on the problem.
  4. Don’t attack people personally. Instead, focus on their performance.
  5. Get both sides of the story before you take action.
  6. Give people room to fail and don’t rub their noses in it when they do.
  7. Be quick to forgive and give the benefit of the doubt.
  8. Don’t ever ask your people to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.
  9. Respect other people’s time.
  10. Don’t believe all the nice things people say about you.
  11. Follow through on your commitments, even when it is inconvenient or expensive.
  12. Keep confidences. Make no exceptions.
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