June 2015: Sara Seabolt Duncan ‘99

Martin Luther King Jr. once asked, “Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

Upon entering a career in the Social Work Profession, I was able to answer this question quite easily.  My experience at Concord University prepared me not only for a career in Social Work, but also employment into the “real word.” As a Manager/Director of a Social Work agency, I often become quite aware, not all educational programs produce graduates ready for actual work.  Concord University, through field placement experiences and course work, is able to give graduates the framework needed to achieve success.  Due to the direction I received from Concord, I was able to further my education and attain predetermined career goals.   

  A career in Social Work can be rewarding and purposeful; however, the same career can be overwhelming, stressful, and challenging.  Social Workers provide a wide variety of services to the most vulnerable of populations including: counseling, intervention, assessment, advocacy, and treatment.  For those entering the Social Work Profession, identifying your career goals is valuable for your personal and professional life.

Helpful tips:

  • Education: Stay current on research, politics, and social issues.  As social workers, we must attend and participate in continuing education classes (CEUs).  The cornerstone of professional development is your education.  Increase your knowledge base and skills by attending conferences.  Review the NASW Web site Research Page that provides information on social work research to help inform policy, practice, and education; visit the NASW Center for Workforce Studies Clearinghouse, an on-line library for those searching for information about the social work workforce; read Social Work Speaks Abstracts to research policy issues related to the social work profession.
  • Professional Networking: Get involved and stay involved! Become a member of your state’s NASW program, lobby, lobby, and lobby! Strengthen and grow your social work career through networking with your colleagues around the globe and in your community.  Volunteer opportunities can enhance your skills while expanding your social work network.
  • Social Change:  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This may sound a bit cliché, but no sentiment rings truer in the social work profession.  Chances are, the reason you have entered into the Social Work Profession is due in part to social change.  Social change can reconstruct attitudes, laws, policies, and behaviors to better reflect values of fairness, diversity, and opportunity.
  • Ethics and Best Practice:  The NASW Code of Ethics serves as a guide to everyday practice in professional conduct within the Social Work Profession.  When faced with a difficult situation or a dilemma, always refer to your code of ethics, essentially, this guide provides a reference for ethical principles and ethical standards.  The NASW Code of Ethics addresses the following:  Importance of relationships, service, dignity, worth, integrity, social justice, confidentiality, conflict of interest, service, etc…
  • Compassion Satisfaction:  The term “compassion fatigue” is quite familiar in the helping profession; however, in the social work field, we prefer to utilize the concept of “compassion satisfaction”—the phenomenon as being satisfied with doing the work of caring.  In other words, the bliss of serving others makes the pressure of the profession worth it.  A few words of advice within this category for those entering into the social work profession:  set and pursue realistic goals, celebrate small victories, learn to ask for help, make time for yourself!

Lastly, Congratulations to the graduating class of 2015, I wish you the best of the luck with your future endeavors, I hope to “CU” in the wonderful world/profession of Social Work!