Social Work as a Career

Social Work as a Career

Many a times one hears of opinions that social work is a voluntary service, done out of one’s free will. You will find famous personalities, their spouses, retired personnel etc., saying that they love to do ‘social work’.

However, social work from the general notion of ‘pyjamakurta clad’ is slowly changing with the efforts of various social work professionals. A large number of people have realized that social work is not just about doing good deeds and helping the under-privileged. On the contrary, with social problems of disability, drug misuse, poverty, mental ill health, problems of elderly, adolescents, etc. rising constantly, social work has become a vital need of our Nation today. This profession offers immense soul satisfaction and though the general idea is that social work jobs are not lucrative, the trend is towards higher pay packages and well defined career paths.

Social work is a career in a very different sense, far away from the conventional definition of a career. A social worker’s professional responsibilities and his or her personal life are intertwined. Most social workers cannot simply go to work, do their job, and then leave their thoughts and feelings about work at the office when returning home. They try to keep professional concerns separate from their roles and responsibilities but the nature of the work makes this difficult.

Social work professionals view the client, as a whole person with various dimensions, including the physical,  spiritual, emotional, psychological, social and intellectual. They also appraise the client with a situational and ecological context. These same concepts apply to the individual who takes on the roles and responsibilities of a social worker. The social workers respond to the challenges of practice with his or her whole being; therefore, the worker’s beliefs, values and physical and emotional well-being, spirituality, family relationships, friendships and all other facets of living will both influence and be influenced by the day-to-day experiences of social work practice. There must be good fit between the person and his or her occupation and job. A mismatch can be destructive to one’s health and emotional well-being.

A social worker works towards the interests of the community and ensures that its most susceptible/ vulnerable citizens receive protection and care in the most responsive way possible.

Those in their first social work job realize that there is seldom enough time to do all that needs to be done.

Most entry-level jobs are ones involving the provision of services directly to clients. Many are angered when they recognize that in far too many agencies, social work values and principles and a concern for clients have taken a backseat to the forces of political pressure, administrative fiat, budget limitations, the fear of lawsuits, and the day-by-day struggle. Within such an environment, it can be a challenge to maintain one’s professional ideas and standards.

Some important requirements for success in this profession are:
l Observation and Analytical skills
l Ability to view other people’s problems objectively
l Capacity to take initiative
l Capacity to work alone and also as part of a team
l Committed to human rights and social justice
l Being non-judgmental in attitude
l Patience in dealing with people
l Taking up responsibility
l Being emotionally mature
l Sensibility in determining priorities
l Sensitivity to the needs of people
l Effective and appropriate crisis interventions
l Conflict resolution skills
l Reflective learning abilities

Thus, interest in the psychological and emotional aspects of people’s behaviour, patience and persistence are a few of the characteristics that one must possess to be in this field. Also one needs to treat everyone as equals and should not hold a bias or prejudice against any section of the society.