Many people who like caring for others consider a career in social work. After all, it’s a role that involves helping the most vulnerable people in society to live better lives and overcome emotional and behavioral difficulties. Are you sure it is right for you, though? While on paper you might think it is your ideal career, you must think about everything before jumping into a role that requires so much patience and emotional strength. Here are twelve questions to ask yourself before becoming a social worker.
1. Are You Willing to Learn?
Social workers are well-educated professionals, which means you’ll need to be willing to learn if you want to make it. If you don’t have your GRE, though, you can still apply for your master’s in social work by looking for No GRE for MSW admissions. Remember, though, that social work involves life-long learning; even after you’ve attained your master’s, you’ll spend the rest of your career learning about human behavior, ethics, and diversity.
2. Do You Like Being Around People?
Enjoying being around people is a must for social work due to its predominantly social nature. You’ll be spending lots of time with various clients, all of which you’ll need to sit with and talk to. If you would prefer to work alone, then simply put – social work is not the career for you.
3. Do Others Like Being Around You?
Possibly more important is whether or not others like being around you. Of course, this can be a difficult question to answer, seen as you’ve never actually met yourself. If you have lots of friends and you tend to cheer the atmosphere up, though, you can be pretty sure you’re enjoyable to be around. This is important because interpersonal skills are a must for social workers; if people like your presence, you’re more likely to get a better reaction out of clients.
4. Do You Have Endless Patience?
Patience is another trait you must have if you want to succeed as a social worker. Be honest with yourself – can you handle difficult people who might test your patience on a regular basis? Think about the times your patience has been tested in the past, and you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you have the patience necessary to handle social work.
5. Are You Able to Set Boundaries?
Boundaries are essential in social work. When meeting multiple clients, some might try to test your boundaries, but you must treat everyone the same way. While being empathetic to their situation is good, you can never get too emotionally involved; otherwise, you run the risk of becoming emotionally drained.
6. Do You Have Experience Working with Difficult People?
While you don’t need to have had a job working with difficult people to become a social worker, it does help. Even if you haven’t done it as a career, consider if you have ever had situations where you’ve had to handle difficult people – perhaps at school or with a co-worker. The way you acted during these times will give you an indication of how you will handle tough clients.
7. Do You Know How to Look After Yourself?
As mentioned, social work isn’t always the easiest of roles, and sometimes it can even be emotionally draining. It makes sense – when you are dealing with so many vulnerable people each day, it can get to you. That is why it’s so important to be able to look after yourself. Looking after yourself is more than just putting on a face mask after a long day at work. Do you eat well? Do you make time for self-care? Do you know when you’ve reached your limit? Burnout is prevalent in social work, so it’s essential that you know how to prioritize your own physical and mental health.
8. Are You Interested in Societal Issues?
Social work is not just about the individual client; it is also about society as a whole. A lot of the time, the clients you will deal with will be going through challenges that are a reflection of their community as a whole. The more you care and are interested in societal issues, the more drive you will have, the better people’s lives.
9. Do You Respect Any & All Cultures?
As a social worker, you will be working with a lot of different clients, including people from various cultures. It’s crucial, then, to be culturally sensitive and respectful of any and all cultures. If not, social work is certainly not a career for you.
10. Are You Willing To Go The Extra Mile?
Social workers are a lot like superheroes – they don’t give up when things get tough. When you have already had a busy and stressful week, ask yourself if you would still be willing to go the extra mile to help a client? It’s a lot of work, but that’s what it takes to succeed in social work.
11. Do You Have A Lot Of Empathy?
The importance of empathy cannot be underestimated when it comes to social work and any other career that’s focused on helping vulnerable people. After all, as a social worker, you will often be the sole support network of people, and you need to be able to empathize with their situation fully. By doing so, you will be able to give the best possible care.
12. Why Do You Want To Be A Social Worker?
Before becoming a social worker, you should ask yourself why you want to become one in the first place, as your answer will determine if you are truly right for the role. It’s not enough to want to be one because your other options fell through or you think it’ll be an easy career. If the answer is because you have the required traits and you genuinely want to help people, though, then the chances are you would make an excellent social worker.