“Hi, nice to meet you” is a phrase so often followed by “So, what do you do for a living?”
When someone says they are social worker often they will get a comment such as “ohhh,” “what a hard job you have,” or “that must be a really rewarding job.” Yes, please be in awe of a social worker; it is true, it can be a difficult and rewarding profession. However, many people do not know what a social worker actually does and how variable their jobs can be. Who can blame anyone for not knowing? If someone says are a (insert any profession here) anyone might immediately “ohhh and awe” and then realize “I have no idea what that means.”
However, when we meet fellow social workers the next question would be “what exactly you do as a social worker?” Then of course, “tell me more about that.” We know that a social worker could mean anything from a child welfare advocate to a nursing home case manager. It could mean they work for the state, a private agency, a non-profit or that they are self-employed. It could mean that they work in any level of education, any level of government or policy reform. It could mean they are your best friend’s therapist or they were with your grandmother during her time in hospice. In short, there is no one “job” that defines a social workers’ role in the community.
Similarly, values that unite social workers are also quite diverse. Social workers utilize the role of the political and social climate to best support the person in their environment. Social workers believe in people and their ability to change. Social workers practice from a culturally competent standpoint to advocate for individuals and communities. Social workers are the “voice for the voiceless.”
Social worker are trained to treat and care for people with dignity and respect. The profession is based on one’s capacity to understand human behavior. With this, social workers’ skills are transferable to a wide range of settings and their roles are limitless.
Quick tip: When meeting with a social worker “ohhh and awe” if you are so inclined and then possibly say, “I know social workers can do a lot of things. What capacity do you serve our community?” This statement and question combo will likely inform you of issues you didn’t know existed in your community. It may also potentially land you a hot date with a social worker, if that’s what you are after.
– Jessica and Andrea