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How can I make the most of my 2 year MSW?

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10 hours ago, FeministDreams said:

Hi I am starting my MSW in September. I am really anxious that finding good and stable employment at the end will be as hard as it was after undergrad. What did you do that made the best of your experience? Or helped you figure out what where you wanted to be headed? Or what landed you your dream job? 

I don’t have any answers but I am also curious about the answer to this question!

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Hi, I am starting a 3-year MSW program this fall after completing a separate graduate degree in environmental studies a few years ago (goal is to contribute to social work around the climate crisis). Anyway, I can't give MSW-specific advice, but I do have a sense for what is most valuable about grad school in a general way from having been in it recently. Here are my thoughts:

Relationship-building and networking are the most fruitful and critical pieces of any graduate program. The relationships you form are going to lead to increased opportunities for community engagement, research, employment, etc.

If you know the specific kind of social work you want to do, gear everything you do in grad school towards it. Participate in conferences and join societies focused on your specialization.

Use class projects to benefit community-based organizations doing work you believe in/ fields you hope to work in. (For example, in my previous program I helped create a map for a human rights org as a project for a GIS class. There was no requirement to work with an organization on a map, and it would have been easier had I just used it as a hypothetical, but it gave me hands-on experience with common challenges and also produced something meaningful for both the organization and me, leading to a conference presentation and creating a useful communications tool for them.)

Gear your practicums towards the work you want. Find the agencies you want to work for and be proactive about making connections there. You can suggest sites for your practicum-- take initiative to build relationships at those organizations and treat your time there like a working interview. 

Use school projects to contribute to research in your desired field. If you have to write a paper for class, put exceptional effort into it. Maybe even look at the core curriculum for your classes, review the syllabi for them, and see if there's a way to build a research paper that you can then have published, via an assortment of smaller papers on the same subject. I've personally done this and it helped with both my thesis and opportunities for publication down the line. Publications in your field are never going to hurt your employability. And you can then present your papers at conferences. DO THIS.

Basically, look for every opportunity to leverage your time in school to build your skills, connections, and reputation in your field. You'll graduate with a host of references and contacts that will lead to the opportunities you're looking for.

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