It’s probably the number one concern of graduate students, as the end of their program approaches — how will I find a job?
Your extra years of studying and field training have given you the skills you need to thrive as a social work professional, but how do you leverage your grad school experience to secure a job in the field? Luckily, with a little forethought and planning, you can set yourself up as an attractive candidate for your dream job and feel confident about your career prospects upon graduation.
Read on as we walk you through the three stages of your job hunt, full of easy steps you can take to land your dream job right out of grad school.
Stage One: Still in Your MSW Program
First things first, while you are still earning your Master of Social Work degree, you should evaluate the different areas of social work practice and decide what kind of social work career you would like to pursue. Narrowing down the field and selecting one area can be challenging, so look at the courses you have taken and the field placements you have participated in and search for some common threads. Perhaps you found the coursework in children and families particularly interesting, and you really enjoyed your advanced clinical practice in that area as well. Taking some time for self-reflection can give you a great launching point and narrow down your future job field to the positions you are most passionate about and qualified for.
While still in your MSW program, take advantage of your internships and field experiences. These opportunities offer you the chance, not only to gain valuable hands-on experience and hone your skills but also to make connections with professionals in the field. Your supervisors and co-workers can be a valuable resource when you graduate and are looking for a job.
Furthermore, take this time to continue building and nurturing the relationships you have with your professors. These individuals are experienced professionals, frequently with connections in the field. Forming strong relationships with them helps you in two ways: first, they can be a helpful resource for you post-graduation when you run into professional challenges. Second, when you begin your job search you can go to them and ask if they know of any positions or organizations that would be a good fit for your skills. After all, landing a job is frequently as much about who you know, as it is what you know.
Finally, begin drafting a cover letter and resume. Include relevant experience, education, and certifications, as well as references (another great reason to maintain strong relationships with your professors). Once you find a job you want to apply for, you can take your draft and customize it to fit the position or company.
Stage Two: Right Before Graduation
It is never too early to begin your job planning and search. In the final year of their master’s degree, many students choose to begin exploring their professional area of interest by arranging informational interviews. An informational interview is a chance for you to learn more about a position or an organization, even if there is not a formal job opening available. If you are interested in working for a specific company or in a particular position, reach out to them and ask if you can come in for an informational interview. Focus on learning about the work, and making an authentic connection. You can also leave them with your resume — they might contact you if a job opens up.
At the beginning of your last semester, or even before, you should begin applying for jobs. The secret here is to remember quality over quantity. Focus on applying to the positions you are qualified for and that you would actually enjoy. Applying for jobs that are in your field, but not the work you want to do won’t benefit you in the long run — it will leave you frustrated and burnt out.
Finally, take advantage of the career resources at your school. Talk to a career counselor, look at community job boards, and take advantage of the school’s network — you never know where the job you’ve been looking for could turn up!
Stage Three: After Earning Your MSW
Hopefully, upon graduation, you have a job lined up and you are on your way to growing in your career as a social work professional. However, if you have not secured a job before graduating — don’t worry keep on applying. Finding the right job can take some time, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a skilled social worker with the education and training needed to make a significant contribution to the field.
Finally, continue networking even after you land your first job. Maintaining your professional relationships is important for collaboration in your field and continued career advancement. It is also comforting to know that you have a supportive team of professional colleagues in your corner.
Baylor’s MSW Is the Ideal Preparation for Starting Your Career
The Master of Social Work program at Baylor University has over 50 years of experience preparing students to begin successful social work careers. Upon completion of their degree program, students will have all the tools, training, and experience needed to step into their career of choice. In addition to in-depth classroom training from expert faculty, Baylor MSW students gain a plethora of first-hand experience in the social work field through field placements. The MSW program also prepares graduates to attain advanced levels of licensure.
Earning an MSW is the best way for you to ensure you have excellent career prospects in the field of social work. If you want to learn more about Baylor’s graduate degree program we invite you to reach out and request more information. We are excited to help you begin your dream of a fulfilling social work career!