The daily life of a social work student can be filled with any number of combinations of studying, internships, group projects, classwork, downtime, and self-care. Ambree Meek, a graduate of Baylor’s Bachelor of Social Work program and current MSW student describes her daily life as a social work student as “embodying empathy, banishing bias, and learning how to proactively overcome your own obstacles and those of your new clients.”
Making the leap and choosing to pursue a graduate degree can be challenging, and the unknown of it all can be intimidating. But grad school is a rewarding choice, a time set aside for in-depth study and practical learning experiences. So, for all of you who are wondering — what does a day in the life of a social work student really look like? And what do social workers do? — we invite you to read on and see as Ambree shares a glimpse into her typical day.
7:15 AM — If you like breakfast, you’re up.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday classes start promptly at 8 AM. If I want to eat or swing by our local coffee shop, Common Grounds, I’m up around 7:15. Thirty minutes to get ready before I leave for classes might not sound like a long time, but I've quickly learned that sleep is a precious thing. It’s Monday and I have an internship after two of my classes, so I put on some professional pants. Lookin’ good girl.
7:45 AM — On my morning commute to school the 12th street bridge is under construction. That adds an extra three minutes added to my drive, which means 3 fewer minutes of sleep. However, my new route brings me directly next to Chick-fil-a…chicken mini’s anyone?
8:00 AM — Cue my smiling internship professor.
I take a seat in class and I’m amazed (yet again) that my professor has managed to drop her two kids at school, do her makeup, and still be ready for class this early, with a SMILE! Morning people. Luckily I’ve got my Chick-fil-a, so I’m smiling too.
Students are seated around the room in our conversation style classrooms. I can see every face and began recognizing my classmates easily within a few weeks of school starting. I mentally go over the reading from the night before and begin to think about the day ahead. The professor makes sure to check in with us by opening class with “How are we feeling today?”
Varied responses come from around the room with knowing looks exchanged between friends. We are a vocal and open group and we begin to discuss our internships in detail — the best things, the most challenging things, and everything in between. I learn that other people are adjusting to the combination of the (unpaid) internship, school, and paying job. Everyone’s internship begins to take on a life of its own and I truly look forward to this class each day. It becomes a safe space to hear how my peers are doing in their placements, how they help clients overcome their obstacles, and how they are tackling their own problems along the way. It reminds me that it's okay to not have everything together all the time. We are all trying our best!
11:00 AM — On to community practice class.
The cohort begins to filter into classrooms based on their clinical or community social work classification. As a community social worker, my class is small, but I’ve quickly grown to love my macro-minded peers. I count my lucky stars that I get to learn from such renowned community practitioners such as Dr. Yancey and the various guest speakers that come to class to share their community social work roles.
12:15 PM — Stomach growls. Still in class.
12:45 PM — I eat the lunch I packed and head to my internship. When I arrive, my Task Supervisor is embedded in her work. She informs me of a few tasks I need to complete and I get to work on them immediately. A few of the items on my list include: grant writing proposals, working on my learning contract, reviewing my case-load, and creating an organizational system for my agency. This part of my day is eclectic and differs nearly every time I’m at my internship. I quickly learn that social work comes in many shapes and sizes and I’m reminded that every little task I complete at this agency ultimately betters me, my clients, or the agency in some way.
3:45 PM — Client meeting (7-year-old).
My strategic coloring pages and worksheets are printed. Today my client and I will talk about emotional regulation using the characters from the Disney movie Inside Out. We manage to review our last session, color these worksheets, talk about emotional responses and how certain situations make us feel. The clock hits 4:15. Yes, still some time left! We quickly discuss the takeaways from our session, before I drop him back off at his classroom.
4:30 PM — I wrap up the last few tasks for my internship that day. I reflect on my session with my client and what questions and tasks seemed to be break-throughs for him. I take a minute to breathe and say a prayer for the client, remembering the abuse he disclosed just a few weeks ago.
5:00 PM — I exit the agency and say goodbye to my supervisor and coworkers who are working late again. I gather my textbooks, planner, client worksheets, and laptop load up my car.
8:00 PM — The end of my day!
After eating a quick dinner and completing my first homework assignment for the evening, I decide it's time for a study break. I turn on an episode of “Dear White People” on Netflix — a time to chill, but also stay woke.
11:30 PM — Before I go to sleep for the night I have my group project meeting, finish up the rest of my homework, and fit in a quick work out (if I’m lucky)! It’s been a full, but fulfilling day, and it's time for bed. Snooze.