Being at home with your children and seeing them grow and learn has been a fantastic period in your life, but now you are ready to explore your full potential. Embarking on a career in social work can be fulfilling, and it can offer you the change (and challenge) that you now seek. So, to get started with your new career and to successfully move away from being a stay-at-home mom, what should you focus on?
Deciding the Time is Right for a Change
There is no such thing as a perfect time for a change. However, there is a right time for a change. This time comes around when you feel like you have more to give (and offer). Being at home and raising your children is rewarding, but as they grow in independence, it is time for you to start exploring your potential. The right time for a change is personal, and as such, there is no timeline that you can follow. You are best to listen to your gut and trust your instinct. If you feel that the time is now, then go for it. If you think you will feel a little bit more ready in 6 months, then wait. Getting the timing right for you and your family is a key element you have to follow when deciding the time for change is right.
What Does a Social Worker Do
A lot of people have an idea about what a social worker does, but they are never fully aware of how diverse their role is. A social worker may be acting as an intermediary for family problems one day while dealing with an individual who has substance abuse the next. There are never two cases or problems that are the same, and this is where a social worker’s versatility and adaptability come into play. Social workers assess situations, plan, advise and give guidance, and this is something you will have experience in (from your parenting experiences).
What You Have to Offer as a Social Worker
You have already learned and built a lot of valuable skills through your parenting. These valuable skills can be transferable, and they can be suitable for a role as a social worker. For example, you already can be empathetic, caring, sympathetic, and understanding – and these are all key qualities of a good social worker. As a social worker, you can offer your life experience, but you can also offer the potential for change. A lot of people need guidance and direction within their lives, and something they need pointing in the right direction. This is something that you can do, and something that you can embrace.
Why Social Work Offers the Best Opportunities for You
As a social worker, you will have the opportunity to use your skillset to have an impact on the lives of many. You will also have the opportunity to pursue a career that can provide you with sustainability and longevity. As populations increase, society evolves, and even family dynamics change. Change can be good for some but not for most, and this is then when social workers are needed to restore balance and harmony. Moving forwards, social workers will be needed more than ever, and this will mean more opportunities for you and for your career progression/advancement.
Making a Difference in the Lives of Others
As a social worker, you truly have the chance to make a difference (and impact) on the lives of others. You have the ability to make situations a bit better, and you have the chance to give people a second chance that they deserve. Social workers do not judge cases. They simply offer aid and assistance in any way that they can. When you can visibly make a difference in the lives of others, you will get a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from your job – and you will find that this is hard to replicate.
Investing in Yourself
You have invested a lot of time and effort into your children and your family, and now it is time you start focusing on yourself. When you invest in yourself, you focus on improving your skillset, and you focus on doing what you need to do to become a social worker. If you are not prepared to fully invest in yourself, then you will struggle to make the change (or transition) successfully, and this may end up then knocking your confidence.
Splitting Your Time and Energy
You only have so much time, and energy on offer, and how you split your resources is important. To build your social worker career, you will need to invest your time and energy into your studies and finding a suitable role. You will also need to be sure that you can keep plates spinning at home. If you cannot successfully split your time, you will struggle to find a happy and manageable balance.
Advancing Your Education is Essential
Your education is of paramount importance when you are becoming a new social worker, so it is vital that you focus on choosing the right program. Not all programs are created equally, and this is something you should take into consideration. When you are looking for programs, you need to look for online MSW degree programs accredited because, if they are not accredited, you may struggle to get the role you want (after finishing your studies). Investing time and energy into finding the right program and provider will be beneficial to every area of your new career. When you are looking at programs on offer (and you are comparing providers), you need to weigh up a list of pros and cons. See how supportive they are with online studying, and see what facilities they have in place that you can take advantage of. Even though you will want to study online at a time that suits you, it is always worth establishing what support and backup you have available.
Embracing Online Studying
Flexibility is important, especially when you are trying to build a career around your family and your parental responsibilities. When you study online, you gain the freedom that you do not have when you study in a physical establishment. For a start, you save valuable time on commuting – this time can be used (and spent) with loved ones. You can also find more of a harmonious balance between work, life, and studies (when you study online). Online studying allows you to study at a time and place that is convenient for you. When you study online, you get more time to really immerse yourself in the program or unit that you are studying, and this will once again further ignite your passion and desire for the new career you are soon to embark on.
Building a Strong Support Network
To get the most out of your career, you need to remember that you are not alone in this journey. Building a strong support network (that includes family and friends, as well as potential work colleagues) is important. When you have a strong support network surrounding you, then you will never feel lost or misguided, and you will never feel overwhelmed by the job or the work that is involved. Being able to share your daily experiences and being able to offload stress and pressure is important – especially as your role as a social worker is so diverse. At times you will feel overwhelmed by the work or caseload you have, and to ensure that you push forwards, you need to know that you have support and backup when you need it.
Landing Your First Role
To get your first role in social work, you have to be prepared to put yourself out there. Opportunities will not come knocking on your door. Through your college or university, you should start seeking work placements (as often job offers will follow on from successful work placements). You should also start thinking about how you will handle interviews and also think about what your resume looks like. Even though there are gaps in social work that need filling by new employees, there will still be tough competition to fight off (and you must not forget this). Taking time out to rewrite or enhance your resume or even practicing interview questions, skills, and techniques with loved ones are going to be a valuable use of your time.
What Do You Want to Achieve?
When you have started your career as a social worker, it is important to realize that there are even more opportunities out there. There are opportunities that are yet to be discovered, and there are opportunities for progression and possible even diversification. To ensure that you do not remain stagnant within your career, you must establish what you would like to achieve further down the line. Laying out what you see yourself doing within the next 5–10 years is important. A plan will help transform your visions and ideas into reality. A plan will also give you both direction and purpose – both of these are needed for a long-lasting career.