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General advice/where should I add experience?


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Hello! I am a 22 year old young professional with a BA in psychology as well as minors in Human Development and Family Studies, Spanish, and Sex and Gender Studies. I am interested in pursuing a Masters degree in Social Work, but I'm not sure that my application would be strong enough. I graduated with a 3.3 GPA (mostly honors classes, but I did not graduate with honors) in 2013. I have not taken the GRE yet.


I have worked for an environmental company on and off since 2008 (6 years). During high school and college, I worked as an Lead Paint Litigation Intern over summer and winter breaks. When I graduated, I worked at a competing company for 9 months. I returned to the original environmental company as a full-time Lead Paint Case Analyst and have been working there since April 2014 (6 months). I do not enjoy the work, but it allows me to live on my own and save money for my education. Because I spend most of my time reading and summarizing the personal files of low-income, inner-city Baltimore children and their families (medical records, environmental records, DSS, depositions, housing authority, etc.), I believe I can relate my experience here to certain parts of case management. Other aspects of my current job include going out in the field to observe lead-based paint inspections of vacant and dilapidated homes and doing lead-based paint related research. I think the time that I have spent with this company shows a great deal of loyalty and significant office experience.


In my junior year of college, I spent a semester as a psychology of linguistics research assistant but did not gain much from the experience. I am currently applying to a part-time ADHD related research position at Johns Hopkins which will better fit my interests.


During my senior year of college I worked as a teaching assistant for a human sexuality course and a peer mentor/art therapy intern at a center for adults with severe and persistent mental disorders. I feel that these are my most relevant work experiences, but they were each only a semester long.


I am looking for volunteer opportunities in my area and found a homeless shelter down the street from me that may be a good fit. I'm excited to hear back from them. They have openings for an administrative assistant, bingo facilitator, karaoke host, arts and crafts workshop facilitator, dinner server, and movie workshop facilitator, all of which I feel capable of doing. I mentioned my plans to pursue an MSW and LCSW to the volunteer coordinator in my email and am waiting to hear back.


My top choices are UMD Baltimore and SFSU or other California schools in the Bay area. I was interested in Widener's MSW/Human Sexuality Ph.D. but it is out of my price range. I am willing to wait a year before applying if I were to attend a public California school in order to become a resident and gain more experience (especially because I'm not sure what I want to concentrate on besides a clinical focus). The in-state tuition is very tempting. Out-of-state tuition for SFSU is similar to UMD in-state. I've heard that SFSU is very selective, so where would you recommend I beef up my resume?


Thank you for reading!

Edited by cheezliz
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Always add meat to your resume related to whatever you want to be doing at the school you are going to. For instance, if you wanted to get a degree in legal social work (court-appointed social worker, CPS cases, things of that nature), you'd be well on your way. However, if you wanted to go into Substance Addictions Counseling, your resume is severely lacking. 


Volunteering is a fantastic option. Again, just make sure you have a focus on what you want to do. If I were looking at a resume that noted all the things you have, I'd be curious as to whether or not you'd ever finish. Not because you don't have the intelligence, but because you seem to have been field-hopping so much.  


You've mentioned education or experience in:

  • Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Family Studies
  • Spanish
  • Sex and Gender Studies
  • Environmental Safety
  • Case Management
  • Civil Investigation
  • Human Sexuality
  • Art Therapy



Compared to a sad little resume like my own which features: 

  • Addictions Counseling
  • Interpersonal Skills Training
  • Writing

So, if you plan on actually going to graduate school for something directly related to ADHD (for instance, counseling adults or children with the disorder), then applying to the Johns Hopkins position is great and the homeless shelter position is probably just going to "confuse" your resume further. 


As you stated, you have all these short-lived experiences in these different areas, and that may make you a less attractive candidate. You may come off as a jack of all trades (master of none). 


Honestly, I'd just sit down for an hour or so somewhere quiet (library, cafe, park, etc.) and really think about what I want to do. What would make me excited to get up and go to work in the morning (on most days)? What is something I would do in my spare time, for free? What talents do I have that I could spread throughout the world and feel good about the work that I'm doing with people? 


These types of questions can help you gain a central focus. Once you know exactly what you want to do, every step you take can be geared towards coming closer to that goal. 


Hope this was helpful. I'm wishing you the best of luck!!  :D

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