Congrats to all of the 2016 graduates of the MSW programs throughout the United States!!!!!!
This past week, I saw so many graduation caps that were beautifully decorated to depict the personalities of the graduates. I smiled ear to ear when I saw many receiving their Masters in Social Work.
In 2011, I walked across that same stage to receive my MSW degree from Rutgers University. I was excited, but also nervous about the "job hunt" and student loans.
So, I wanted to share some helpful tips with all of my extraordinary and remarkable Social Workers out there.
1. Take your licensing exam.
You just received your fancy degree, now it's time to add some credentials behind your name to make it official. I remember taking my LSW exam a week before graduation and was so thrilled to see "PASS" on the screen. There are a lot of helpful study guides, apps and testing material sites that will help you pass the licensing exam.
According to the ASWB, the 2015 passing rate for the Master's exam was 80.5%.
I highly recommend you take as many practice exams to pass the exam. (Email me, if you need assistance).
2. Contact your fellow social work peers and previous field placement to find out about job opportunities.
I can't begin to stress how important it is to keep in touch with your fellow classmates, former advisors and field supervisors. You spent 1-4 years in your Masters program and many of your classmates became your friends.
Your classmates might have the plug for that job opportunity you're looking for. They're also a great support system to have when you need to vent about being "overworked", dealing with crisis situations, someone to attend CEUs workshops with and just chatting about salary requirements during your job interviews.
Reach out to your previous field placement supervisor to see if there are any opportunities. I remember completing my 2nd year field placement at a large state hospital in a psychiatric setting. I kept in touch with the social workers and they contacted me immediately when an opportunity popped up. Hospitals and schools are two of the hardest places to get in, so keep those connects just incase.
3. Keep applying to jobs, but don't lose hope if you don't get a call back.
The application process can be so daunting, but don't give up. What is meant for you will be yours. A simple trick is to also email your resume directly to the Director of Social Services, Program Director, Principal, President, etc. of the company. Another tip, tailor made your cover letter, so it doesn't look generic.
Check out these sites to apply for jobs:
4. Network! Network! Network!
Start attending networking events, become a board member of a non-profit organization and use your skills and knowledge base to network with others. You should aim to attend at least 3 networking events within the year. The events don't have to be social work related events, but it's a major plus to attend professional development workshops. Remember, once you're licensed you will need 30 CEUs, so the CEU workshops are a great way to network with some of the experts in the field.
5. Become a member of NASW.
I am preaching to myself with this one. The NASW offers many benefits, such as discounts to CEUs and conferences. Connect with your local chapter and attend their meetings and get involved. They offer tons of resources to position you to SLAY in this field.
6. Consider a job that doesn't require you to be licensed.
Yes, you heard that right! Some social work jobs won't hire you unless you are fully licensed within your state. In the meantime, take up a job as a case manager, grant writer, mental health worker, youth counselor, behavioral assistant, program coordinator, etc.
If you live in NJ, you don't need to be a Licensed Social Worker to work as a School Social Worker. Feel free to email me to assist you with getting your School Social Work certification.
You worked hard for that degree, so make the most out of it. Find your niche in the field and become the go to expert. Your gifts and talents are needed in this world, so lets get things HANDLED and SLAY!