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Choosing a Rewarding Career Path as a Social Worker

Choosing a Career in Social Work
Written by Cher Zavala

Social workers have the unique opportunity to foster real, positive change in their communities and the world at large.

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On day one, you might be nervous, but you are also excited, and you can’t wait to start your first project. On day 500, you just can’t wait to go home. Nearly every job becomes monotonous after enough time, and you will probably find yourself becoming disengaged and disheartened at work. However, it is possible to find real career success ― as long as you look for a career that will keep you interested and motivated.

Social work is easily among the most rewarding careers. Social workers have the unique opportunity to foster real, positive change in their communities and the world at large. Below are some tips for you to become a success in this career field.

Know Why You Work

Knowing the “why” behind your work is the first step in staying committed to a certain path. Answering questions like “Why are you working?” and “Why will this job help you achieve your goals?” could help you feel more dedicated to what you do.

Fortunately, for social workers, the “why” is usually their driving force for entering the profession, which means answering such a question is incredibly easy. Social workers work to make others’ lives better, financially, physically, and emotionally. Their work inherently has meaning, which is a primary reason you might pursue the career and stay motivated for life. Click here to learn more. 

Set Smaller Milestones

“Become President of the United States” is a goal, but you need to make several smaller achievements before you can even be considered for the job. This is true on every career path; smaller successes pave the way to significant career satisfaction. Unfortunately, it is easy to ignore or forget the small steps or even entire flights when you are focused on the top of the staircase. Not only is setting milestones important, but recognizing your triumph over them and celebrating your efforts is vital to staying motivated in a job.

Even social workers can struggle with the necessity of recognizing everyday accomplishments. Social work isn’t easy, but every client served, every case completed is another milestone reached and worthy of salute.

Find a Mentor

You are likely young, and you are definitely inexperienced in your current career path. That means you probably don’t know exactly what to expect on the road ahead ― but someone else certainly does. There have been hundreds of workers who have excelled at your exact job, and forming a connection with them may help you become more connected to your profession. Mentors provide advice, encouragement, and insight to keep you motivated.

Social workers can make use of mentors, as well. More experienced colleagues are usually more than eager to pass along wisdom accumulated through years on the job, which can make social work easier and more engaging in the long run.

Make Friends

For one reason or another, many young workers try to avoid befriending their coworkers. However, this almost always leads to dissatisfaction at work and a lack of motivation. Having close personal relationships encourages you to work harder ― whether to avoid letting your team down or to compete with those around you.

Because social work can be isolating, going out of your way to become close with your peers will help you stay engaged with your work and motivated to do better every day. Plus, you can commiserate about cases in ways your non–social work friends will never understand.

Keep Learning

Every position offers opportunities to better yourself, and accepting these opportunities usually helps you stay motivated at work every day. No matter what kind of work to do, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will be paid to learn ― as long as you have the right mindset.

In social work, this is exceptionally true. No two cases are exactly alike, which means social workers constantly have the chance to learn about new lifestyles, different challenges, and personal stories. The field continues to change, which essentially makes continued learning mandatory, especially when it comes to developing technology.

Be Kind to Yourself

It is easy to fall prey to the idea that if you aren’t working, you are falling behind. Many employers nowadays encourage workaholism, and new, young workers often burn out hard and fast thanks to a ceaseless schedule. Exhausting yourself day-in and day-out is no way to motivate yourself to keep working; instead, you should give yourself regular breaks and provide yourself plenty of time to recover during nights and weekends.

For social workers, this is perhaps the hardest tip of all. Overworking is easy when you strive to serve others, but your mental and physical health is just as important as your clients’ health. Therefore, setting self-love as a priority is perhaps the best way to stay motivated at work.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

My main acceptance in life would be that “change” itself is a constant and regardless of opinion it is inevitable. Making peace with ones self and accepting the things we CANNOT change is key to living a full and happy life. Within those experiences we grow as people and learn.

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I have learned to appreciate all of my imperfections as it makes me who I am as a person and in reality “perfection” is all up for interpretation. In return I have taught myself to replace the old methods in dealing with situations and problems with ones that will deliver or elicit positive responses and solutions.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

I believe my core values or the personal rules I have set in place for myself and chose to live by have brought nothing but reward to my life as it has created my known presence to be one of value and those things remind me daily of my standards set if ever I were to steer off course.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?

Over analyzing every situation would definitely be a not-so-perfect quirk about myself, leading my mind to wander with thoughts of what-if’s, that usually are just that, “what-if’s”. Along with spontaneity and positivity it creates my not-so-perfect, but awesome self!! :)

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my positive outlook on life and the huge heart I carry with me daily filled with nothing but compassion for others and a willingness to always be learning something new.

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About the author

Cher Zavala

Cher is a content coordinator who assists in contributing quality articles on various topics. In her free time she also enjoys hiking, traveling and getting to know the world around her. Cher has built up many strong relationships over the years within the blogging community and loves sharing her useful tips with others.