Social work is a profession that requires commitment to improving the lives of others as well as the community around you. As a social worker, the NASW Code of Ethics which states the mission you have as a social a social work professional. The mission “is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” (NASW, 2008). By following these ethics, social workers are leading by example and showing that they have respect for not only their responsibilities as a social worker but more importantly, their clients. The Code of Ethics contains four major sections that make it up as a whole. The most important part of the Code may very well be the six core values: 1. Service, 2. Social justice, 3. Dignity and worth of a person, 4.Importance of human relationships, 5. Integrity, and 6. Competence. These six values outline the essence of what it means to be a social worker. By demonstrating these values through your actions as a social worker, you are showing compassion, trustworthiness, and integrity. These are just a few of the key characteristics that are essential to this profession.
Although it can be hard at times, you must keep a non-biased attitude towards your clients’ situation in order to handle a situation in the most professional manner possible. Social work unique from other helping professions in that you are not only improving the life of a client, group, or family, but working hand in hand with the community around you. It is important to embrace these values in order to successfully improve the welfare of everyone involved in your profession. From a young age I believe that I have always had a passion for helping others. Helping professions also run in my family; my mother is a preschool teacher and one of the most compassionate women I know. My father has a business degree but he has surprisingly been my biggest inspiration to pursue a career in social work. In his spare time, my father is a very active member of our church and does everything he can to help with fundraisers and goes into the city every month to feed the homeless. He is also a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Baltimore and even won “Big Brother of the Year.”
He is selfless and puts in time for these things even with his busy career. He has encouraged me to make the most of my college years and to pursue a degree that makes me happy, not necessarily one that paid the most. In high school, at the time, I thought that my calling was to be a veterinarian and help animals. I began my college career at a small school in Pennsylvania but soon after figured out that the school and the path to being a veterinarian was not for me. When I transferred to Shepherd, I switched my major to elementary education. After the first semester, I had a chance to job shadow and take an education course but again I did not feel this major was quite the right fit. I thought long and hard about what major I could pursue that would fulfill my passion for working with children as well as help them. That is when I realized that social work was the perfect match for me. Over the past few summers, I have worked at a YMCA summer camp as a counselor. In my position, I worked with the age group of five and six year olds.
However, my job went deeper than just simply supervising kids and planning activities. An aspect of my job that I never thought would affect me were the parents. Every day when the kids would get dropped off at camp I would get a chance to speak with the parents and also get a small feel for what this child’s life was like at home. It fascinated me that by just the parents I could get a glimpse of why a child behaved the way they did. It really got me thinking about how I could positively impact the lives of these children by simply making their summer at this camp a wonderful experience. It occurred to me that some of these children do not get to spend any time with their parents because they work all day every day and this is why they are at camp. It made me sad for these kids but at the same time motivated me to be the best counselor possible. As a social worker, I hope to have a profession that involves helping children; being a school guidance counselor, a therapist, or possibly even being a social worker in the pediatric ward of a hospital. Social work will be a good fit for me as a helping profession because I believe I have a passion for seeing and helping people improve.
Some important characteristics I possess that will help me reach my potential in this profession are good listening skills, integrity towards others, compassion, and most importantly willingness to help others. A key aspect that sets social work apart from other helping professions is putting other people before yourself. This is not say that you should completely disregard your own feelings and more importantly gut feelings about a situation, but you must be willing to put your biases aside in order to fully assist your clients. I have always been good at listening to others when they are having problems and just need a shoulder to lean on. I think that listening is extremely important, maybe even more important than giving advice. Sometimes you do not need to give your opinion or advice, but by simply listening, you are helping someone take that weight of what they were feeling off of their shoulders. Some expectations that I have of the social work profession that it will not always be easy and that there is potential for emotional burnout and stress.
Some reservations that I have about being a social worker is that I may become too emotionally involved with a client’s situation. I know it is important to stay as impartial as possible and stay focused on helping your client in the best way you know how. It is also important to have a good relationship with your clients but at the same time you need to remain professional and unbiased. Since I want to have a job that involves working with children, it may be difficult at times to not get emotionally connected. It is harder with children because they are helpless in their living and family situations. For example, if a child is being abused at home it might be hard to not get upset and want to reach out and help that child. You are helping the child but you must do it in a way that is looking out for the child’s best interest and without getting too emotionally and personally involved. A practice setting that I would be attracted to working in would be a school or a hospital setting. Working in a school setting, I could work face to face and individually with children as well as even groups and classrooms of children.
Being a guidance counselor or just a school social worker in general, I could educate children as well as help them with their individual problems. In a hospital setting I would want to work in a pediatric setting. Working in this setting would allow me to help children who are recovering or going through traumatic sicknesses. Being able to help children who are probably scared in the hospital, I would be able to help them alongside with their families to make the experience of being in a hospital as painless as possible. A setting that does not appeal to me would be working with the geriatric population. I have visited nursing homes a handful of times to see relatives that were sick or no longer able to take care of themselves and I do not like the atmosphere. The thought of growing old and death are things that I am not very comfortable with.
However I think it is important to keep my options open and maybe later on I will develop more interest in this area after taking more social work courses. An aspect of social work that appeals to me is that no matter what work setting you are in, you are able to work alongside other professions as well to reach a common goal. Although this was only an introduction course and a small glimpse into the social work profession, I can see that that there are endless possibilities with a social work degree. It opened my eyes to so many career options that I never even knew about before and even sparked new interests. I hope that one day I have a fulfilling and rewarding career as a social worker and make a difference in the world, even if it is small.