Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why I Am Studying Social Work

As I am going through my junior year of college and starting the process of applying to internships, this question gets asked frequently. I also get asked this question in the "real world" as well. Because, as you know, social workers "don't make any money," "can't do anything without a master's degree" and are "just baby snatchers." (Let the eye rolling commence, all of you social workers and students. I'm sure you've heard these statements, and more, many times.)

Yes, this is not a career that is as lucrative as some. And while I would always love to have a higher salary, I do think that it is a safeguard to protect the profession against those who aren't passionate about the field. People don't go into social work for the money; they go into it to help people. And we do make well enough to live a very comfortable lifestyle.  

It all started with my want to help others. Ever since I was a young girl, I knew I would be in a "helping profession." I've wanted to do everything from be a doctor, nurse, teacher, counselor, and a nun (I think every Catholic school girl has considered becoming a nun at some point in their childhood. Or maybe I'm a weirdo..). So why did I choose Social Work over any of those?

I am becoming a Social Worker so that I can help people in many aspects of their lives. Yes, I want to talk to people about their problems and issues. But how much good is talking about someone's feelings when they can barely pay attention over the grumblings of a hungry stomach? How much good is tutoring a child going to do when they are severely neglected at home? I want to help people fill those basic needs so that they can fully work on bettering themselves as a whole. When you get a wound, you need to cover it up before you are able to go get it cleaned and stitched. I want to be part of helping with the band aids and the stitches of the world.  

I am becoming a Social Worker so I can advocate. I want to fight for people's rights. I want to work with people to get them connected to agencies and organizations to help them be the best them that they can be. I want to advocate on a micro level for each client, and on a macro level for the clients as whole. 

I am becoming a Social Worker because I think that everyone should have a cheerleader. Although it is very easy to judge someone for the situation they are in, whether it's out of their control or due to their own choices, maybe all someone needs is a person who believes in them. A person who knows that they can do it. And I want to be that cheerleader. 

Lastly, I am becoming a Social Worker because Social Workers tend to work with the most at-risk populations. We work with the impoverished, the disabled, the elderly, children, and others who have an even larger mountain to climb in society. The people who are less likely to have that person in their life to believe in them. The people who have less resources to work with. I want to be helper for those people. 

Yes, I know that this is a glorious picture of Social Work. Although I am very green to the field, and my lack of experience does give me a naive positive outlook, I am also realistic. I do realize that I will get clients who won't fight for themselves no matter how much I believe in them. I know that there are people who will not change. But even so, I want to be that cheerleader in success stories, even if they are far and few in between. And if my positive outlook makes me naive, then I hope I remain a naive Social Worker my whole career. 

Love and Blessings, 

Annmarie Jordan

P.S. This photo might give you an idea of what prompted this write up:

Basically, it's the messy hair, glasses, no make up and hoodie-wearing part of the semester. I'm losing my drive a little. But writing out why I'm doing this has pushed me a little harder to finish my biology homework :)

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