Social Work Programs

February 19, 2011

Social Work Internships

Filed under: — admin @ 4:23 am

Some would say that the most important part of your Bachelor’s or Master’s program in Social Work is your internship. You can only learn so much from reading books and listening to lectures even from the best teachers. Your internship is your chance to actually experience what you’ll be doing in the the field of social work. Social work programs often work with a large range of non-profit organizations, hospitals, government agencies, schools and more to offer internships.

The internship is your opportunity to test out your interests and gain experience. You may have started a social work program with the dream of being a school social worker, but once you spend some time in that setting you may change your direction. Or you may have dreamed focusing your work as a substance abuse counselor and upon the social work internship completion confirmed for sure that addiction work is your strongest interest. Internships are a wonderful opportunity for exposure to a variety of settings. You may not always get your first choice, but your advisor generally will give you a selection to work from. During my first year internship I worked at Hillel and one of my responsibilities was organizing and meeting with undergraduates working with the elderly in the community. This was very rewarding and many of the students treated the person they were paired with as a grandparent. My second internship was at a university counseling and I was able to do individual counseling, participate in group meetings and work with couples.

Benefit Of Field Placement Opportunities

Social work internships are also useful because they may turn into a career once you complete school. If you are lucky enough to intern at an agency that will be hiring, they will likely consider someone that they just spent a significant amount of time already training. It is important to forge positive professional relationships with everyone you encounter at your field placement. This includes your immediate supervisor, secretaries and your clients. If the agency decides to hire they will likely speak to a number of individuals regarding your character and skills. They’ll also review recommendations from your professors in the msw program or bsw school.

Depending on if you are in a Bachelor’s or Master’s of Social Work program, you may have the opportunity to complete more than one internship. This is especially ideal if you are having a hard time narrowing down your interests. It will also make you more marketable once you begin your job search. It is important to research what skills employers are looking for when hiring. You will then be able to compose a list of skills you wish to obtain that you can discuss with your supervisor. Remember, your supervisor was once an intern too, and wants you to succeed.

If you are unsure of what you want to specialize in, you’ll get some direction during your internship. Many agency jobs have a variety of tasks. You may do individual, couples and family counseling. Also you can run groups on eating disorder issues or assertiveness training. Some people like variety in their work and many agency positions have room for many types of counseling modalities with a number of different populations.

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