5 Tips for Surviving Your First Year in Social Work

The field of social work is rewarding, but it isn’t easy. You might be looking forward to starting a job in your new career field, but you might be nervous about what’s ahead as well. Luckily, following these five tips will help you survive your first year in social work.

1. Keep Studying

Even though you studied hard all through college and now have a degree to prove it, you shouldn’t assume that you know everything. Keep your books; you might need them. If you find yourself confused, don’t be afraid to pull out your books and go back over your old material.

2. Make Connections

Now is a great time to start making connections in the industry. Get to know everyone who works in your office. Attend events, and meet up with people there. Get online, and join online communities for people who are in social work. All of these things can help you make connections that will help you later in your career, such as if you find yourself in need of a job later on or if you need a mentor who you can trust.

3. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

It can be easy to want to take on the world when you graduate. However, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself. If you try to handle too many cases at once, you won’t be able to give your full attention to the people who you are supposed to be helping. You could also burn yourself out and could perform poorly on performance reviews. If you feel as if you are getting overwhelmed with your work load, don’t be afraid to say so to your supervisor. It is better to handle a few cases well than to overwork yourself and stretch yourself too thin.

4. Ask Questions

You can never learn too much in the world of social work. There are probably others in your office who have been in the industry for a long time and who can give you a lot of advice. Make sure to ask questions if you are curious about something or if you fear that you aren’t handling one of your cases the right way. It can always be helpful to have a second brain to help you with your cases, especially if you’re talking to someone who has a lot of experience in the industry.

5. Put Your Feelers Out There

The job outlook for those in the industry is actually higher than average. Contrary to what you might have heard, the industry is not dying. There will always be jobs for social workers like you, so you deserve to work in a position that you love.

This is why it’s never a bad idea to put your feelers out there, even in your first year. Keep your resume up-to-date, and apply for job positions that are interesting to you. It’s always good to have options, and you never know when you might find a job that is easier or more interesting or that might offer a higher pay rate. Just make sure that you preserve your good name by never quitting a job without giving a two weeks’ notice.

Your first year in social work might not be a walk in the park, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make the most out of it. If you follow these five tips, you might be surprised by how productive and wonderful your first year might be. Plus, you’ll be setting yourself up to be successful in the future, which is important if you want to work in social work in the long term.