icon-accordion-downicon-adulticon-arrow-righticon-arrow-righticon-communityicon-disabilitiesicon-newicon-transportation
Skip to main content

Is a Career in Social Work for Me? – Carolina, LMSW

March is National Social Work Month. Hope Network recognizes and celebrates the significant contributions of our social workers to the communities we serve. Find out where Carolina’s education and career path took her next.

Carolina, LMSW, Lead Social Worker – Behavioral Health, Grand Rapids

THE TIME RIGHT FOR SOCIAL WORK.  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?

With the pandemic, social services overall has gone up – but with our clients, with the quarantining and reducing activities, there has been a lot of cabin fever. This has increased the attention needed from the social workers. For people coming out of school, there isn’t a better time to start your career in social work.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN SOCIAL WORK?

When I started college, my degree was marine biology. I wanted something to do with the benefits that animals bring to people, that connection between the two. Somehow, I ended up in the social work department while they were recruiting. They talked to me about animal assisted therapy, and that idea of helping people and presenting them with an object that can comfort them is what drew me in. Ironically, I’ve never practiced in that area.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING A CAREER IN SOCIAL WORK?

With social work it’s believed that you have to be a bleeding heart, and you have to have so much compassion. And it’s true, you do, you need a certain level of compassion, but you also have to be the person delivering bad news. So finding that balance between compassion and bluntness. Also, there needs to be work-life balance, either being able to check your work life at the door when you get home, or your personal life when you get to work. While at work, you have to be able to find humor in some of the situations, it definitely helps keep you sane.

COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOB DUTIES AND THE POPULATION YOU SUPPORT?

We serve in residential homes for adults with a mental health diagnosis. We help prepare people for going back to their normal life, or living to their highest level of independence. The program is more long term clientele. I carry a small case load, unless I have a case manager out then it will increase. Right now, I’m doing a lot of teaching and coaching – since our staff is younger and new to the social work field.

WHAT WAS YOUR EDUCATION/ LICENSING PATH?

I decided to get school done and out of the way all at once, so I did my Master’s program at the same university I got my Bachelor’s at. I was able to take my licensing test right out of school (which you are required to have all of the training hours first now), and the place I was interning at hired me in after graduation.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST FULFILLING ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION?

It’s a fun job, and. it’s seeing when you actually made an impact. However, it can be years before you see a change in a person, and the change they want, might not be the one you want for them. At the end of the day, it’s the milestones that they hit, whether that be them moving out on their own, or finding their level of independence.

Follow us