One of the most noble things a person can do is to strive to help their community. People with a desire to help their community often might not know where to start; communities are diverse places containing lots of people that need different types of help in different areas.
Before you get overwhelmed and leave the idea of aiding your community to someone else, check out social work because it might be just the thing that allows you to make the impact on your community that you desire.
At its core, social work is designed to inspire people and empower them to be able to change their lives for the better. Often, the people who seek out social work are facing some kind of injustice or wrong that is impacting them, their community, or the wider world and they need help to face it and to solve the problem. Social work allows people and communities to be empowered to change their lives for the better, and this can have a massive impact on communities and lives.
How to get started with social work?
Before you can get started in social work, you need to know two things. First, you need to know what type of social work you want to practice, and second, you need to know what your responsibilities will be in that role.
The three levels of social work are micro social work, mezzo social work, and macro social work.
- Micro social work has social workers working one on one with family members, individuals, and small groups. Their responsibilities can include support for addictions and substance abuse, mental health therapy, and housing issues or insecurity.
- Mezzo social work has social workers working with large groups of people. These can include groups in a school, prison, hospital, or local community, and they take on challenges facing the entire group. These can include academic problems in a school setting, substance abuse recovery for the inmates of a prison, or care coordination for people who are in hospital care.
- Macro social work takes the social worker away from the community and into places where they can make much larger changes. Social workers at the macro level make policy changes, conduct research, and focus on agendas that will benefit the community. At the macro level, social workers try to solve the ongoing issues of homelessness, food insecurity, substance abuse, and much more.
Each of these three levels can and will help out your community, and which level you decide to practice in is up to you. Are you the type of person who loves research and making big sweeping changes, or do you want to work with small groups and solve very personal problems? None of these three levels are better than the other; it is just a matter of preference and how best you can use your skills to help others the most.
What do social workers do?
No matter what level of social work you decide to take on, you will be handling some common responsibilities, and here are some of the most common tasks a social worker performs for people. For starters, you need to be able to listen. Whether you are working with small children, someone in hospital care, or a group of disadvantaged adults, they will be telling you their problems and their stories, and you need to be able to hear them in order to help them.
Second, you need to have a willingness to help and to think outside the box. While most of the time there will be resources and procedures to guide you, occasionally you will need to think outside the box to give your clients the best help you can.
For the most part, social workers listen to the various problems that their clients have and then they figure out the best way to connect those clients to resources that will solve those particular problems. Depending on the field that they are in, a social worker will work with a variety of different people and have access to different resources.
What education does a social worker need?
Depending on the career and the type of social work that you want to pursue, you might need several forms of education. Most social workers will at least need a bachelor’s degree, and there are many options in areas such as social services, case management, and social work. Social workers looking to further their education and specialize can pursue a master’s degree. A Master of Social Work (MSW) gives you the specialized knowledge required to broaden your skillset and open up options for your career. MSW career options are plentiful, and the courses offered by reputable institutions such as Keuka College offer traditional and advanced track programs that allow you to tailor your experience to your preferences and current level of education.
After deciding on your course, it is useful to pick a niche or a social work specialty to focus on because that specialized knowledge and training is only going to help you stand out in the job market. Plus, you can complete internships in order to make sure that you have hands-on experience in your field.
Help your community by training as a social worker
Everyone in your town or community has a voice and a story to tell. Sometimes those voices just aren’t loud enough to be heard. As a social worker, you will be able to understand those stories, problems, and grievances and turn them into something positive. There’s nothing more empowering or exciting than watching a community change for the better because you connected them with the resources they needed to improve their lives.