Southern New Hampshire University Future Career Goals Discussion & Responses

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Discussion 1: Future Career Goals

What are your short- and long-term professional goals? Do they include moving into a leadership and management position? Transitioning from clinical to administrative roles is not uncommon in social work practice. It is useful, however, to think about relevant skills, knowledge, and professional experiences that will prepare you for the transition. In addition, you should consider the personal benefits and challenges of assuming a leadership role.

By Day 3

Post your thoughts about your future career goals (LICENSED SOCIAL WORKER), your interest in moving into leadership or management positions, and the benefits and challenges of a social work administrator’s role. 

Support your post with specific references to the resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references.

By Day 5

Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

Respond to at least two colleagues by commenting on at least one idea he or she has shared and by suggesting and/or providing a resource that might be of assistance.

Colleague 1:Sonya 

    My short-term goal is to learn all relevant therapy theories and models. My long-term goal is to be an entrepreneur of mental health counseling agency. The transition involves moving from an independent to a managerial role that consists in guiding, mentoring, and evaluating employees. I will continue to assess my leadership abilities, skills, and knowledge and grow in my sense of self and professional identity. McTighe (2011) stated supervisors must discuss and demonstrate the use of “self” to their supervisees. The author also said that social workers must understand one’s “self” in terms of their values, beliefs, and roles before being effective as therapists. The benefits of becoming a manager are to have more freedom to influence policy and procedures, mentor, and teach associates. As a manager, I find it challenging to release control of everyday tasks and manage people and their conflicts. Astin et al. (2013) stated that the transition from independent worker to a manager is difficult because the worker needs to redefine their sense of self and self-confidence. 

References

Astin, M. J., Regan, K., Gothard, S., & Carnochan, S. (2013). Becoming a manager in nonprofit human service

    organizations: Making the transition from specialist to generalist. Administration in Social Work, 37(4), 372-385. 

McTighe, J. (2011). Teaching the use of self through the process of clinical supervision. Clinical Social Work Journal,

    39(3), 301–307. 

Colleague 2: Jennifer

Post your thoughts about your future career goals, your interest in moving into leadership or management positions, and the benefits and challenges of a social work administrator’s role.

After leaving the US Army I enrolled in the BSW program at UNC. From early on in my life, I knew that I wanted to be able to help those who could not help themselves. I obtained my AAS degree in Human Services and then transferred to UNC in the Social Work Program. During my time at UNC, I was awarded a scholarship to be part of the Child Welfare Collaborative Program. As part of my scholarship, I was awarded a financial stipend and agreed to commit to working in the field of child welfare for 2 years. Here I am, 12 years later, and I am still in the field of social work as a supervisor in Child Protective Services. I have worked hard to get where I am today and was promoted to supervisor only after 4 years as an investigator. I love certain aspects of supervision. I love knowing that I have a team of social workers that depend on me to provide education, guidance, and support for them to complete their job. “Skilled leaders are competent, and they know what to do and they know how to do it”. (Northouse, p. 5). I love sharing my passion of social work with new social workers and guiding them through all of the processes that come along with child welfare. What I miss probably the most about being in supervision is working directly with the clients one on one. There is something about when you work with a family, and you can see the successes face to face. Being behind the scenes sometimes affects my judgement about certain aspects of a case. Social workers make decisions based on facts and they also make decisions based on observations and feelings. I feel not as connected being in supervision with the clients due to the lack of contact.

With that being said, I feel that it is time for me to move on from the child welfare sector. I have given a lot of thought to this decision over the past 3 years. During my field placements, I have made wonderful connections with the clients as well as the staff that I was working alongside. My placement was at a smaller mental health agency that provides therapy to a wide variety of clients. The most amazing connection that I had was I walked into a session with another therapist. Due to the pandemic, we were wearing masks so I couldn’t see some of the face of the client. When I was introduced, it was a former foster child, Christian, that I had back in 2013. He was still in foster care, and he remembered me. We had a good time catching up. He is now almost 17 years of age and is still in foster care. I knew at this moment that I wanted to move into the private sector and be able to work more one on one with clients. I feel that even though it is s new position, it is kind of like coming full circle in the aspect that I will be providing direct client services again.

Challenges and Benefits

There are a lot of challenges when working in an administrator’s role. While formal prior training and experience can be useful when direct service practitioners in human service organizations move into managerial roles, new managers often face challenges as they learn to exercise authority, negotiate competing interests, manage organizational politics, and move from their role as a technical specialist to becoming a managerial generalist. (Auston, Regan, Gothard & Carnochan, 2013).  As I mentioned above, in leadership I am responsible for many cases with different workers. There is an expectation that as a supervisor, we are to know every aspect of every case. This is not humanly possible. With the pandemic, there has been a strain on staffing issues that were already strained prior to the pandemic. I must know leadership tasks such as supervision, staffing, reports, and personnel issues. When there are workers out, I also must take on the responsibility of ensuring the families are being seen and handling any crisis that comes along when the assigned social worker is out. Many social work researchers point to the lack of leadership and management curriculum in baccalaureate and masters programs in social work and the lack of leadership training for practicing social workers. (Peters, p. 336). Thus, those in leadership positions could use more educational support when taking on a leadership or administrator role.  

There are also some benefits from being in an administrator role. The administrator comes with as wealth of knowledge in their field. They are looked upon as the expert and are often sought out for guidance with issues and concerns. Administrators network with peers that are also typically in an upper management role. When something good occurs in the agency, the administrator is typically given the praise of the good work and also when things tend to go south, the administrator is also look at for responsibility.  am looking forward to having the “break” from supervision for a while and rebuild on my social work skills that I am so passionate about. And hopefully I will be able to connect with more of the “Christians” that I had throughout my career in social work.  

Reference

Austin, M. J., Regan, K., Gothard, S., & Carnochan, S. (2013). Becoming a manager in nonprofit human service organizations: Making the transition from specialist to generalist. Administration in Social Work, 37(4), 372-385.

Northouse, P. G. (2021). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Sage.

Peters, S. (2017). Social work leadership: An analysis of historical and contemporary challenges. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 41(4), 336–345. https://doi.org/10.1080/23303131.2017.1302375

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