Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Job Interview No. 1

I BELIEVE THE INTERVIEW WENT VERY WELL. And while it was no walk in the park, I think I have a good chance at getting the job. There were three components: the interview; a short written exercise; and a typing exam (more for form and accuracy than speed). I was impressed with the caliber of the interview team, as well as the fact that the government social service agency takes the business of child welfare so seriously.

The HR team's interview process was streamlined, and I was the last interview of the day. This made my day a bit maddening; I would much rather have gotten it over with in the morning when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

When they asked me where I wanted to work, I told them that I was more interested in the ongoing units, and that I think Foster Care might be a good place for me to start. I have only worked on the placement unit for one day! I am basing this on what I have heard and witnessed--not on what I have done. My entire internship has been on the CPS side of the agency. It would actually be easier for me to work on that side because I have the most experience there. But I am drawn to Foster Care.

I am going to turn this over to my Higher Power because at this moment in time, if I get a job offer, I don't really know where my best fit may be. And there may be more than one "great fit." What I know is that I have officially left my comfort zone. It is a thing of the past!

My hopes and prayers are that I will continue to be teachable, that I will continue to be divinely led, that I will continue to be willing to step out--to leap in faith, and to trust that all is well.

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The other side of the house--and a job interview

TOMORROW I MOVE INTO PLACEMENT at my field practicum. I have been on the CPS side of the child welfare agency ever since I started my internship back in Fall 2009.

I have always been drawn to Foster Care. Now is my opportunity to find out if it's a good fit for me. With just a few short weeks left in field placement, I want to experience as much as I can before I consider a position.

Oh, did I mention I have my first interview on Wednesday?

I was really excited when I got the call last week. I'll "go upstairs" at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Please send lots of light!

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Layers of the onion

SOMETIMES IT'S ALL TOO MUCH. Really. You go on a home visit. The house is filthy--and when you sit down on the couch you feel your feet sticking to places on the carpet. Boxes of perishable food are stacked on the floor in in the middle of the living room, and once-cold packages of apple sauce and other foods are sweating as they adjust to the room's temperature.

A dryer is set up in the dining room, and there are no table or chairs--no sign of habitation, really, throughout the rooms nor on the walls of this place. As you head into the kitchen you notice a virtual colony of insects congregating on the linoleum. Roaches--the German kind--are flitting across the floor in broad daylight, followed by other creepy-crawly things, and flies. When Mom opens the refrigerator door, the stench from inside almost knocks you over, and you steel yourself so as not to appear unkind.

Glancing at the carpet, you see coins and staples, bits and pieces of paper, and other indistinguishable things scattered about. "Is your child crawling yet?" you ask, as he is not at home for you to observe.

"Oh, yes, he's crawling and getting into everything!" Mom replies, proudly beaming from ear to ear.

Picking up a coin, a staple, and some scraps of paper you explain how dangerous these could be for a young child, were he to put them in his mouth, which he is normally apt to do. You talk about the importance of cleaning the floors in general, inquire about the bug issues, and discuss solutions.

You peek into the bedrooms, and it is impossible to see the child's bed, and most of the mother's bed, as clothing is heaped high upon each of them. You ask where the child sleeps and Mom has to take you into the small room and point directly at the area. You see a little bit of a headboard poking out of the laundry piles. Mom explains that she is cleaning out her closet, but it's evident that the room has been like this for sometime.

When the representative from the lab comes to get a urine sample for analysis, he spends a long time searching the bathroom and having Mom remove various bottles of shampoos, soaps, etc. After he finishes, he stands outside the door waiting and listening. Mom reports that she is unable to void. He leaves with an empty cup.

After an in-depth interview, you leave the home, taking with you the smell of stale cigarette smoke and feeling like you need a long scrub in a hot shower.

Where to begin? There are so many places to start. How about right where she is?

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learning to be flexible

FIVE. That's the number of work spaces I've inhabited since I began my internship back in the Fall of 2009. On the bright side, I've gotten the lay of the land in my agency like nobody's business!

I am happy to report this move was an upgrade. Once again I am in an office rather than a cubicle. I started in a cubicle, moved into an office, then into another office, back into a cubicle, and now I am in an office. These are all different offices and cubicles, mind you. I say this not to complain but rather to let you know that the only thing certain about an internship is the uncertainty!

I have learned many things while at this agency, and I believe one of my biggest lessons has been the one I've learned about attachment--or more specifically, detachment. In some 12-step programs detachment is defined as "letting go with love." I can't say that applies exactly, but my attachment to attachment has been a fickle source of comfort for me over the years.

Change is imminent, and while I like to try new things, travel to new places, and meet new people, I have also found it comforting to be in positions which offered a sense of security and routine.

This internship is not like that.

Every day that I walk in, I never really know what's in store for me, or if I'll be in the same space. And, as surprising as it is to me, I like it. The lack of structure is liberating in a way that is hard to describe. I like the not knowing! I like not being in charge of my day, to some extent. And, I enjoy the challenge of it all.

Today I worked until 7 p.m. and it felt like I was only there for a few hours. I know this isn't something I can keep doing as an intern, and yet today it felt really great to be working on a project, and seeing it through to the end.

As crazy as this sounds--even to me--I can't wait to go back tomorrow!

~Ms. T. J.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare Bill Divides Friends?

I WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT IF IT HADN'T HAPPENED TO ME. Today I was snubbed by a "friend" who isn't in favor of the health care bill! I guess he doesn't like my politics--and you know--I don't like his either, but I treated him as I always do, with a hug and a smile. But I could tell he was holding my viewpoint against me.

Gone are the days when I hold in my thoughts, beliefs, values, ideas to make someone like me. Getting this Master's degree has changed me. Hallelujah!

~Ms. T. J.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three Days Left

WHERE DID YOU GO THIS SPRING BREAK? The beach? The mountains? Home to see your family? Did you stay at school and catch up with your work? Whatever you did and wherever you went, I hope you had a great time.

Me? Oh, I've been in bed. Alone. With the flu. Yep. My husband had it, too. We decided we'd rest better apart. That coughing can really cut into hard-won slumber.

Homework? Nope. Didn't have any focusing abilities. I tried. I even started a power point presentation I need to give in a couple weeks. I think I set up three slides.

Reading? Here and there--in between feverish, sleepless hours tangled up in the sheets.

Did I bathe? Now you are getting personal! Well, um, perhaps I splashed some water on my face and brushed my teeth.

Drink a lot of fluids? Yup.

Eat? Not very much. Funny how the appetite can vanish when a bit of nourishment would do a world of good.

See the light of day? Nope. Fortunately it was dreary and chilly most of the time--okay so maybe the sun came out, but hey, if a tree drops in the forest...you know the story--I wasn't there to see it, so hey, did it shine?

Talk to anybody? Lucky for me, I have persistent, loving friends. So I didn't isolate as badly as I could have, given the hibernation-type behavior I have been exhibiting. One dear friend even drove me to my massage therapist's home so I could get some reflexology. I believe it made a difference. The massage, and the company of my friend.

Feeling better? Yep. Drove my car today. Went to the store to get some more orange juice. Took the dog around the block. The sun was shining and the temp was in the high 60s!

Three days of break left? Hurray!

I am grateful for my usual state of good health. I shall not take it for granted for a long time!

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Final Spring Break

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT: I am sick during spring break! My husband was really sick last week and despite all my preventive efforts, I am now down with a cold, too.

Is the universe trying to slow me down? Is it, like Carolyn says, normal for the body to hang on when you need it to, and let go when you don't? I am definitely paraphrasing and hopefully I got it right.

I have been doing a lot of sleeping, something I am certain I need. The house is so quiet and peaceful. I believe I need that, too. My energy level is so low, I can't muster up enough of it to do much of anything except, now and then, get on the computer, and lay in bed reading short stories by Dorothy Parker.

As I begin to feel better, I plan to finish my child welfare training, get a massage, have lunch with friends, and maybe take a short trip to a nearby island. Until then, I'll be laying low, drinking lots of fluids, and getting through it.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Social Work Philosophy

SOUNDS PRETTY HEADY, EH? Pondering, and stating, my social work philosophy is Part III of a three-part assignment in my Capstone course, Integrative Seminar.

In Part I, we wrote about our "espoused theory," (our values and assumptions, and what we think we want to do); in Part II, our "theories in use," (are we actually doing what we think we are doing?); and now, for Part III, we must scrutinize the first two assignments, and choose the areas of our practice that we want to work on to bring them more into agreement with our espoused practice theories, and also consider whether there are parts that we'd like to drop--or tweak--based on the assessment of our work.

A clear statement of our practice philosophy, along with the findings from Assignment I and II will be used to propose a plan for our professional development. We are allowed to use music, art and poetry to help us express our ideas.

Sounds cool, challenging, exciting, and intense--all rolled into one final assignment for the class (yes, I wrote final assignment--big smiles all around). It's due mid-April, so I have some time to let the ideas marinate...

~Ms. T. J.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Two-Month Countdown is On!

WHEN I LOOKED AT TODAY'S DATE, I knew there was something significant about it. Hmm... March 8--what could it be? Then I realized that it is exactly two months from graduation day! May 8, 2010 is truly just around the corner. We passed the half-way point of the semester last week, completed our mid-terms, and we are definitely on the downhill slide!

I was having coffee with a friend today and I shared that now that graduation is so close, I am having many feelings. I am naturally a bit nervous, and I have a lot of faith in the future. The sky is the limit! I know that I can do many things with this degree, including, and not limited to, child welfare.

As a Title-IV E grant recipient, I still have the option to opt out and pay back the grant that covered my tuition and books. My plan, since the very beginning, has been to pay back the grant with my employment at a child welfare agency.

A friend of mine is chief of surgery at a local hospital in my city and, before I started school, I consulted with him about the child welfare idea. He encouraged me to apply for the Title-IV E grant, and he likened the child welfare agency to the "bowels" of big city hospitals where he completed his residency in New York--where they get the chance to treat the "sickest of the sick." He said the state agencies would be the best training grounds for me, because I would be working on the toughest cases in child welfare.

I am excited about it. I believe I have something to offer, and I want to help. There have been days when I have left my internship deeply saddened and disturbed by the behavior of human beings--and the ways they maltreat children. And, I have not wanted to leave when it was time to go because I was so impassioned about the work.

In a mere two months, I will be a M. S. W., and qualified to take a job as a clinician. It seems hard to imagine, yet totally real! And, what a journey it has been so far.

~Ms. T. J.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's After 2 AM

I AM STILL UP working on a paper.

And, these are the days and nights I will remember--with fondness, relief that they are over, and with a sense of gratitude that I could pull this off.

A friend of mine sent me a text in the midst of mid-terms a couple of weeks ago asking if I could go walking. I sent back a short message letting her know it was crunch time, and that spring break was right around the corner so we could get together then.

She responded: You could just quit school. (Belly laughs all around.)

Late last night, my classmates and I were sending Facebook emails back and forth about our Capstone class papers:
C wrote: I have one critical incident, two references and 6 pages .
I wrote: I have two critical incidents, two references and 6.5 pages.
L responded: One incident, one page, no citations ... priceless.

I laughed out loud.

Either this stuff is really funny or I am deliriously tired. I'm in a place where it's a big adventure, or it's just not worth it at all.

I like this place.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Urgent Call to Action in Georgia: Please Help


Let's JAM UP the telephone lines! Please help today. The talking points are provided below and the Board of Regents telephone numbers are just below them.

Please do whatever you can--nothing more, nothing less

Dalton State College President

Dalton State College Social Work Program in Jeopardy

Budget Cuts Wide and Deep

If you have been following the news, the Board of Regents has been asked to cut over $265 MILLION out of the higher education budget. One immediate effect of this could be the loss of the social work program at Dalton State College. Unlike other state budget entities, the Board of Regents is given a “lump sum” of money. Cuts to this money are determined first by the President of the college/university and then by the Board of Regents. Our legislators do not have a hand in making these cuts. Thus, our FIRST priority is to write, call and email the Presidents, Chancellor and the Board of Regents.

As NASW-GA members, please join your Board and Legislative Committee in advocating against these cuts with the President of Dalton State University, the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Writing to the other Presidents of Georgia’s Colleges and Universities would be helpful, but not as urgent.

Enough is enough! The very future of our State is at stake. As the dean at DSC said, “Let them know that while the cost of education is significant, the cost of ignorance is much greater.”

Specific messages about cuts to social work programs can include:

1) Social work education is a priority need for the future.


The 2006 Task Force on Health Professions Education published by the Board of Regents cited Clinical Social Work as the second most needed profession to meet the health care needs of Georgians and requires a priority focus. The report reads: “Limited resources and instructional capacity require that priority for the next five years be focused on those professions most in jeopardy. The Task Force has identified the following professions, in priority order, as the most fragile and in need of attention over the near term.”

The number one priority is nursing; number two is clinical social work (tied with clinical psychology)!

2) Georgia ’s per capita ratio of social workers per 100K population is among of the 5 lowest in the Nation.

3) More professional social workers are needed in Georgia ! The number of social workers in Georgia is less than half of the average of all the states!

4) Professional social workers are needed to meet the needs of Georgians in all areas: mental health, health, schools, businesses, nursing facilities, ETC.

Please add any information or example you have about the need for additional social workers, thus social work education!

Below please find contact information for all of those who need to hear from the social work profession:

President, Dalton State College

John O. Schwenn
President, Dalton State College
Westcott Building
650 College Drive
Dalton, GA 30720


Chancellor, University System of Georgia
Erroll B. Davis Jr., Chancellor
Office of the Chancellor
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
Suite 7025
270 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
office: 404-656-2202
fax: 404-657-6979
email: chancellor@usg.edu

Board of Regents: 18 total members
If you can only write a few letters or make a few calls, make they mean more by choosing Board members who live closest to you!

Kenneth R. Bernard, Jr.
Sherrod & Bernard
P.O. Box 1154
Douglasville, GA 30133
Phone: (770) 920-8350
Fax: (770) 920-8970

James “Jim” A. Bishop
The Bishop Law Firm
777 Gloucester St., Ste. 401
Brunswick, GA 31520
Phone: (912) 264-2390
Fax: (912) 264-5859

Frederick E. Cooper
P.O. Box 52367
Atlanta, GA 30355
Phone: (404) 467-0905

Larry R. Ellis
Ellis Services & Solutions Enterprises, LLC.
3835 Presidential Parkway, Suite 118
Atlanta, GA 30340
Phone: (770) 458-3773

Robert “Bob” F. Hatcher (Chair)
MidCountry Financial Corp.
201 Second St. , Ste. 950
Macon, GA 31201
Phone: (478) 746-8222
Fax: (478) 746-8005

Felton Jenkins
800 Crawford St.
Madison, GA 30650
Phone: (706) 342-3564
Fax: (706) 342-3564

W. Mansfield Jennings , Jr.
ComSouth Corporation
250 Broad St.
Hawkinsville, GA 31036
Phone: (478) 783-4001
Fax: (478) 783-4620

James R. Jolly
347 Ivey Gate Ridge #2
Dalton, GA 30720
Phone: (706) 226-2317
Fax: (706) 275-4433

Donald M. Leebern, Jr.
Georgia Crown Distributing Co.
P.O. Box 308
McDonough, GA 30253-0308
Phone: (770) 302-3000
Fax: (770) 302-3109

William “Dink” H. NeSmith, Jr.
Community Newspapers, Inc.
297 Prince Avenue Suite 14
Athens, GA 30601
Phone: (706) 548-0010
Fax: (706) 548-0808

Doreen Stiles Poitevint
2001 Twin Lakes Dr.
Bainbridge , GA 39819

Phone: (229) 246-8577
Fax: (229) 248-1922

Willis J. Potts, Jr. (Vice Chair)
2614 Horseleg Creek Rd., SW
Rome, GA 30165
Phone: (706) 802-1313
Fax: (706) 802-1313

Wanda Yancey Rodwell
5628 Silver Ridge Dr.
Stone Mountain , GA 30087
Phone: (770) 879-5700
Fax: (404) 598-1068

Kessel Stelling, Jr.
Bank of North Georgia
8025 Westside Parkway
Alpharetta , GA 30004
Phone: (770) 751-4778
Fax: (770) 754-9950

Benjamin “Ben” J. Tarbutton, III
Sandersville Railroad
206 North Smith St .
Sandersville , GA 31082
Phone: (478) 552-5151 x208
Fax: (478) 552-1118

Richard L. Tucker
Arlington Capital LLC
One Sugarloaf Centre, 1960 Satellite Blvd, Suite 3500
Duluth , GA 30097
Phone: (404) 463-0592
Fax: (404) 657-7913

Allan Vigil
Allan Vigil Ford
P.O. Box 100.001
Morrow, GA 30260
Phone: (678) 364-3673
Fax: (678) 364-3947


This e-mail is reprinted with permission from: Allison S. Huppmann, Member Services Coordinator, National Association of Social Workers Georgia Chapter in Atlanta, GA