Why a Career in Social Work Will Be Rewarding
Some of the most important questions you will ever ponder regarding your career goals will be, “Is this job special? Is this a field which will bring me happiness as well as income? Will I feel rewarded doing this work?” Since hindsight is 20/20 and foresight often non-existent; we surveyed 2 of our Profiled Experts and asked, “What is special about your career as a social worker? What is it about your work that is meaningful?” Here are their replies:
William Pederson graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Eastern Washington University and earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. He has been working as a social worker for 40 years and was named #1 “Social Worker of the Year” in 2007 by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). In addition, Pederson has been a college professor for over 14 years and is currently an esteemed lecturer and educator at Northern Arizona University’s Bachelor of Arts program in Social Work (BASW), where he also acts as the Program’s Coordinator. Notably, and to his credit, Pederson created the first program in the United States to address and specialize in the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico with regards to border issues and populations. Under his direction, students train and study the dynamics of providing border services to both the surrounding residents and those immigrating.
If a young person inquired about the benefits of a career in social work, what would you say to them?
I have had a very rich, rewarding, and diverse practice. I started out working with delinquent adolescents, then emotionally disturbed children. I then worked with drug and alcohol abusing felons before entering drug and alcohol prevention for children and families. In graduate and doctoral school, I worked with homeless, gay youth, then adolescents infected with HIV. Finally, the final part of my practice career was in ER social work. I loved the challenges that came with practicing in an emergency room.
At this stage of my career, I am realizing my dream of being a university professor. Ironically, as my career is coming to a close, I find that I have perhaps achieved the highlight of my career. I have created and am launching the very first social work program in the United States that focuses on U.S.-Mexico border issues and populations. This program teaches generalist social workers how to practice along the border with border people and the unique challenges with which they face. Being the only program in the U.S. with this focus, I am astounded by the interest from faculty and students throughout the United States and Mexico. I am very proud of what we are doing with social work education at NAU Yuma. I am even more proud of the amazing students that are graduating from our program and remain in our local area to continue the work of solving problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Your contributions in the field of social work are immeasurable. Is there anything else you would like to accomplish?
The most immediate thing I want to accomplish is to complete our accreditation process of our BASW program with the Council on Social Work Education. The second thing I want to accomplish is to develop a MSW program with a U.S.-Mexico border issues and populations concentration. Again, my vision and goal is to have that program accredited by the CSWE before I retire.
In authoring the book, The Long Hot Marriage; Todd Creager took his nearly 30 years of experience as a therapist and clinical social worker, combined it with his hard-earned academic knowledge, and essentially married them to his 25 years of experience as a husband. Creager is the founder of the Todd Creager Center for Successful Relationships (TCCFSR) in Huntington Beach, California where he enables his clients to live happy and successful lives.
A graduate of the USC School of Social Work; Creager has two licenses; one to practice Marriage and Family Therapy and the other Clinical Social Work. Much of his expertise in intimacy is the result of the completion of an intensive internship on Human Sexuality through the UCLA School of Medicine and Extension Program in Human Sexuality.
Todd, after almost 3 decades, what makes your practice rewarding?
I assist people to break out of ruts that do not work for them. I see their delight when they realize a new and better way of perceiving their situation. I particularly love seeing when they have successfully changed a pattern and are themselves amazed at how much better their life is.
If you had a magic wand and could change your field, what would you do?
I would love there to be multidisciplinary groups to help people with their sexual problems. The group could be comprised of a sex therapist, gynecologist, urologist, endocrinologist, nutritionist, acupuncturist and other allied health professionals. We would collaborate on client cases and frequently refer to each other to give clients the best possible holistic care.
As you can deduce from our experts, the field of social work is not only personally rewarding, it is also a field which is ripe for the exploration of unaddressed frontiers. Your unique life history, experiences and areas of expertise will be the foundation upon which you can build a meaningful career in social work; a career which will reflect your personal gifts and goals. Once the foundation is set, you will be able to glean from your efforts satisfaction, fulfillment and the knowledge that your job has been beneficial not only to yourself, but also to your family and society as a whole.