So, there I was, doing my morning Twitter scrolling, when I came across Dorlee Michaeli’s post on career tips. As most of you know, I’m currently on the job market, since my PhD funding is no more.* I figured it’d be a great idea to read up on what folks are advising for new social workers.
I’M SO GLAD I READ THIS POST.
There’s a glorious infographic that Dorlee doesn’t want shared but do check it out.
Dr. Bodenheimer’s advice is not rocket science but sometimes reminders with just the right language are just what you need. Knowing that my funding was coming to an end, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and revising regarding my career goals over the past year, so this post was right on time. Two parts really stood out for me:
- Brand yourself.
- At first glance, my reaction was an eyeroll. I know I was all aboard the personal branding train a few years back but I had decided that wasn’t the way to be a social worker. Well, I was right. Dr. Bodenheimer wasn’t saying to turn yourself into a product or service to be marketed but to pick a lane, stick to it, and make sure others know what your lane is. (And then maybe you’ll do some consulting later down the road and you’ll be “well-branded” for that work.) Fortunately, I did this already, so I feel like today’s reading was confirmation. 🙂
- There is so much in social work that can lead to unintended career detours. And lots of folks are keen to sell books, trainings, etc. that sound really great but may not actually be important to YOUR career path. As social workers, we don’t make a lot of extra money to be spending on things that don’t actually support our career development, so we need to be a bit more discriminating than the market might have us believe.Which leads me to the next stand-out point…
- Money Matters.
- LISTEN. Social workers are expected to be poor. iRefuse. I paid my “poverty dues” before I became “official” and now I’m ready to eat without government assistance. Dr. Bodenheimer encourages new social workers not to be lured into the idea that they have to take the first job that they’re offered if it doesn’t pay enough. I kinda lean toward the mindset of not even bothering to apply for jobs that don’t pay enough (if you get the benefit of knowing the salary range).That said, I want to acknowledge the position of privilege required for such a stance.
- Though many grads can rely on their parents or partners to provide basic needs, many of us don’t have that luxury. This is where I encourage people to get on the job market WAY before you think you need to. Graduating in June? Start looking at the New Year. I would even say start monitoring the job market at the start of your last year of school, just so you have a solid idea of what’s out there
- I was quite flabbergasted when, during the last field seminar of my master’s degree, folks were SHOCKED to find out many social work jobs only pay about $35K per year. Yes, you are about to graduate with a $100K degree and may only get paid $35K. This experience gave me so many questions about people’s expectations.
- That said, I think if you get started earlier, you can get a feel for what specialties and entities pay better (hint: it’s not nonprofits), what actual job duties are, and maybe even make some connections that can lead to swift, well-paying employment. Informational interviews are your friends, folks!
Dorlee did an interview with Dr. Bodenheimer, so I encourage you to click on over and read the full post.
Thanks for checking out my reflection! I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments.
*I’ve currently got loans on deck but really trying to avoid going over the $100K mark on my educational borrowing. I am a social worker, after all.