OPINION: We need to do a better job of promoting social work as a career


As a senior in the social work program at WSU, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else or moving into any other profession.  While I am very happy with my decision to major in social work, I didn’t figure out that this is what I wanted to do until two years ago when I was entering into my junior year of college.

Majoring in social work was completely my idea, with no outside influences.  I knew that I wanted to switch my major and after browsing the list of majors offered by WSU and doing my own research into the profession, I spent a lot of time wondering why it took me so long to figure out what I wanted to do.

When I was in my junior and senior year of high school, a lot of emphasis was placed on choosing a career path, but not once do I remember having someone tell me about the profession of social work. While careers such as teachers, psychologists and police officers were prominent, I knew that those weren’t exactly what I wanted to do.

Have you ever heard a teenager respond with the statement, ‘I just want to help people’ in regards to what they want to do with their life? Because I have, and not just once, but a lot, and it has come from my own mouth as well.

Many kids want to have a positive impact on the world but don’t see themselves in the typical helping professions that everyone talks about.

Many people hear the word social worker and immediately picture a person who takes kids away from families. While child welfare is a huge sector of social work, it doesn’t even begin to describe the profession as a whole.

I don’t have enough space here today to give an in-depth overview of social work, but all you really need to know are the core values of the profession; service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.

Social work is about people and fighting for the basic rights that we all deserve. It’s helping people build better lives, relationships, communities and giving them the tools to live the healthy and happy life that they deserve. We work with all populations of people, from young to old, and believe in self-determination.

We don’t tell people how to live their lives; we give them the tools and resources to create and meet their own personal goals. If you’ve ever been told that you have a bleeding heart or that you are too sensitive, it might just mean that you were meant to be a social worker.

When I think about social work, I truly think that my purpose in life is to help people and be an advocate. At the end of the day, I know that my work is important and I am slowly making a positive impact on the world, one person at a time.

The profession is growing and in higher demand than ever, with a projected twelve percent change in employment from 2020 to 2030 according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social work is a very broad profession, with so many different paths to take and explore that you will never feel bored or stagnant.

I urge schools and parents to start promoting social work to those kids who just aren’t sure what they want to do but know that they want to work with people and have a positive impact on the world. While I wouldn’t change anything about my path, I wish I would’ve known about social work sooner than I did.

We need social workers, and I am excited to be part of the next generation in a field that shines a bright light of hope in a world that is filled with negativity and darkness. We need all the hands that we can get; I hope you will join me.