Career Development Student Toolkit

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1 Career Development Student Toolkit University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work

2 Job Searching Search Engines Charity Channel Networking and career search resource Networking Strategies Attend local events, job fairs, and fundraisers in order to meet other social workers. Temporary and volunteer posts allow you to network with agencies and contacts. As you meet people and get their contact information, call or to reintroduce yourself and thank them for talking, wherever you met. Keep these relationships active! Apply through websites There are many career resources on the web. Click here for more info. Use Career services office The School of Social Work has an office to assist in the professional development of its students and alumni. Begin taking advantage of this today by clicking here. Send unsolicited applications If you know of an organization that you would like to work for, send them an , even if they are not seeking new employees. This can serve as a powerful networking tool, you may get a call early on when they are looking to fill a position, or they may send your application on to other, similar agencies that are hiring. Applications Sources of Jobs Organizations often keep applications on file for at least six months, so when a suitable position opens for application, your information will be easily and quickly accessible. Associations Membership in organizations such as NASW allows you to interact with its members, and access member only job posting websites, resume databases, and chapter contacts. Also, there are often student-rates for networking organizations. Pitt The Office of Career Services has information about job postings, professional development/opportunities, and event information that is invaluable for locating open social work positions. Government Registers Government agencies fill open positions through registers such as this; allowing you to post your resume to a database and search for jobs by department. Remember, government hiring processes often take months, so it may be wise to apply while still in college. You can find more about the government hiring process by clicking here. Job Fairs Job fairs are an excellent way to; find jobs, research the job market, network with human resources personnel, practice and develop your interviewing skills, learning about upcoming agencies and programs, and find interesting volunteer opportunities. Though it may seem imposing, you should consider making time to attend job/ internship/career fairs as they come up. Most of the time, employers come because they have positions they need to fill. It is possible that you could leave a job fair having signed a contract, or being invited to a second interview. Even if you don t get a job on the spot, your practice interviewing, talking with employers, and interacting with your peers will serve you well in a more traditional setting. Before attending a job fair, make sure to research the companies that will be attending and try to prepare for the interview (see p. 7). Bring a general resume (p. 4), and be sure to dress in business clothing (p. 8). After the fair, make sure to send a thank you letter (p. 10) to anyone you interviewed with; this will make a good impression and aid in your networking efforts. Idealist Extensive job search of 10,000+ postings NASW NASW homepage with links to job search tool. Social Worker Great resources for students and recent graduates Opportunity Knocks National job site focused on the nonprofit community Social Work Job Bank State-of-the-art job source and career center for employers and social workers Dewey & Kaye Nonprofit and foundation consultants with current job postings in the nonprofit sector

3 Cover Letters We write cover letters because they... Demonstrate Commitment Use the cover letter as your chance to accentuate the ways your commitment to service and justice sets you apart from other applicants. Discuss your affiliations and personal efforts to generate change, as well as the ways your education and career choices have supported this commitment. Highlight Education Take the occasion to discuss your education, growth, and skills. Now is your chance to illustrate that you have a theoretical background in macro as well as micro-level social work, and your readiness to work within the generalist model. Also, highlight master level concentrations in the cover letter. The four sections of an effective cover letter Who and Why - use the first paragraph to introduce and describe yourself. What projects are you currently working on? Why are you seeking a new job? How did you find out about this posting, or why should they keep your resume on file? Qualify Your skills - In the second paragraph, discus your skills, knowledge, and accomplishments that you believe make you the best candidate for the position. Lead with your strongest qualifications. Interest In The Agency - In the third paragraph, describe how you discovered the agency and why you are interested in it. Make sure to talk about your views of the client population, and mention any contacts you ve made who may be recognizable at the organization. Expectations - In the fourth paragraph, tell the employer what you see as the next step. Say you want an interview or to have them keep your resume on file. you can also say that you will call within the next few days, but if you say this, make sure you follow through. Highlight Field Experience Practicum, internships, and educational volunteer-ships offer students with a supervised, hands-on educational experience. Talk about these experiences in your cover letter to convey the level of aptitude you possess and training you have received over the years. When you proofread... Proofreading your letter is as important as planning and organizing it. Spelling and grammar errors cast doubt on your abilities and may make employers think you are hasty, sloppy, or disinterested. Do yourself a favor, and when you proofread, make sure to... Limit I statements Keep your language precise: go through your draft, mark the important phrases, and eliminate unnecessary language. Avoid overusing action or buzz words Ensure your cover letter conveys enthusiasm Reframe negative statements as positive ones, or eliminate them altogether Use a natural, conversational tone without being inappropriate Have your friends and family read through and give you advice Bring it into the Office of Career Services and we can help too Keep it to one-page in length Planning your letter: Single Reader Each cover letter you send out should be targeted at a specific audience. Focus On Organization Consider the specific needs of the organization and the responsibilities of the position. When writing, try to answer the following questions. What issues have an impact on this agency? What are this agency s unique characteristics? What are the primary functions of the job? How can your skills and knowledge help to solve the agency s problems/issues? Prioritize Match your skills with those in the job description and make sure you talk about these first in the cover letter, before discussing traits not mentioned in the job description.

4 Resumes A good resume... Is Tailored - when you apply for a specific job, you should tailor your general resume to show that you can meet the specific needs outlined by the job description. However, for job fairs and resume databanks, you should have a general resume. Is Chronological - your resume should show growth over time. Each experience listed should grow upon the one below it. Keep in mind that you are trying to show growth especially in those areas listed in the job description. Demonstrates Results - you want to convey the impact you ve made on the organizations you ve served. Try finding ways to quantitatively define the work you ve done by the positive results you have seen. For example: Increased enrollment in after-school program by 10% through outreach engagement is a stronger statement than, participated in after school outreach program. Uses white space - resumes should look clean and uncluttered. Keep bullet points short and concise. Remember, you will have a chance to elaborate on your resume during the interview. Is your sales pitch - a resume is your one-page chance to demonstrate how your experience and skills make you the most qualified applicant for a position. Take time to research the job and its responsibilities; use your resume to prove you have shown your proficiency in these areas in the past, and you have grown over time. Gives your contact info - top and center, make sure you have your name, address, phone number, and address. Resume Headings Education - Include the university name, city, program name, and start and end-years. List your educational experience chronologically backwards, and only expand on education applications (scholarships, fellowships, etc). Professional Experience - list the agency, city, position, and years for each experience in a backwards chronology. Under each position, list the skills you acquired/refined that are transferable to the new position. Previous Experience - if you have experience that is outside the social work realm, list it to show that you have varied experiences in the work force. These positions can also show your growth from menial positions into professional posts over time. Skills - list the special qualities that you are bringing to the organization including language skills, technological proficiency, and social work skill you have acquired through workshops, trainings, certifications, etc. Awards - list special recognition that you have received for academic papers or projects; volunteer efforts, etc. Cross-Cultural Experience - show that you can work across populations by highlighting any cross-cultural training or study you ve had. Action Words when describing yourself, use words that convey action, such as: Accomplished, analyzed, balanced, connected, communicated, designed, enabled, facilitated, gained, increased, instituted, introduced, launched, maintained, negotiated, oversaw, performed, produced, reduced, revitalized, screened, served, solved, steered, taught, tested, underwrote, updated, used, won, wrote... Other headings you may consider Objective - Grants - Teaching interests Research Experience - Publications - Presentations Additional Training - Memberships - References

5 Interview Tip Sheet Examples of jobs and key talking points Gerontological Worker Experience with ethical dilemmas Experience with Alzheimer s Strong assessment skills Knowledge of Medicare and Medicaid Policy Analyst Concise, quick, clear writing Experience writing fact sheets, opinion papers, sound bites Understand the big picture Broad knowledge of social issues and policies Medical Social Worker Experience in neonatal and pediatric units ER experience Discharge planning expertise Work with treatment teams Clinical Supervisor Licensed Clinical Social Worker Years of experience Can provided in-service training Supervised interns/students Interviewing preparedness... It is important to plan before an interview. Think carefully about what talking points you ll be highlighting during the interview. What message do you want to convey to the employer? Make this a theme you continually present and support throughout the interview. The interview is your opportunity to explain how each point on your resume has impacted and shaped you into the social worker you are today. Before interviewing, prepare a 2-3 sentence explanation for each point on your resume. If you are applying across fields, be prepared to explain why. Lower stress by practice interviewing with human resource or career service professionals. Common questions are rare opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and qualifications for the job. What is your career goal? Prepare a concise statement describing what you want to do immediately and in the future. Tell me about yourself... Prepare a statement explaining your professional development that is tailored for the job description. What are your skills/strengths? Sell the qualities you have acquired along your career path as well as some personal characteristics that will benefit the organization. What are your weaknesses? Show that you re self-aware by discussing a skill that you have had time to refine. Make sure to frame this response positively and include how the job would help you to develop this skill or achieve a goal. The Goals of a Good Interview Interpret Experience: Find a way to talk about your experience that shows your analytic skills as well as your ability to adapt to new situations. Employers want to know how your previous experience will enhance your skills in this new environment. Present a clear direction: To the best of your ability, decide how you will articulate just what direction you want your career to take and where you expect to be in the future. Also, be realistic about any client populations you are unwilling or unable to work with, and be upfront with the interviewer. Demonstrate your motivation and commitment: Be ready to discuss how your professional development, affiliations, practicum work, and volunteer experience demonstrates your motives for doing this work. How have you shown your commitment over time? Convey maturity and sound judgement: At all times demonstrate that you can fill the role required of the position. Make it clear that you understand the ethical dilemmas, the evidence base for practice, the impact of funding sources and shifting policies on services, differences in philosophies, complexities of evaluation, and specific issues facing this branch of social services. Practice interview: Taking the time to practice your interview with friends, career services professionals, HR reps, and professors. Try to anticipate difficult questions and practice varied responses. This will allow you to develop a conversational interview style and avoid sounding rehearsed.

6 Interview Tips II Tell your story using the STAR method Interviewers want to see that you can be personable, communicative, and comfortable talking with strangers. When you are asked to tell an interviewer a story, remember the STAR method and you ll wow them every time. Situation - Describe the situation that you faced. Try to relate it back to social work skills as best as possible. Task- Tell the interviewer about the task you had to accomplish. Action- Describe the action you took to accomplish the task. Keep in mind that now is your chance to show your ability to apply social work theory to day-to-day challenges, and your description will inform the interviewer of what they should expect from you as an employee. Result- Talk about the final results of your actions. If things didn t turn out well, then describe how you would do things differently in the future, with the experience that you now have. What to wear Professional attire is always appropriate when interviewing for a new job. Even if you know the employer personally, the clothes you wear convey your commitment and interest in the position. Never wear jeans, tee-shirts, or sneakers to an interview. Women Wear a dress, office-length skirt or pantsuit to an interview with matching shoes. Keep shoes conservative, stay away from heels larger than two inches. Keep make-up conservative. Men - Wear a grey, black, or tan suit with a simple, collared shirt and matching tie. Wear formal shoes (loafers, slip-ons, and lace-ups are fine) and match them to your belt. Shave the night before or morning of and do your hair appropriately. Everyone - Get a good night sleep, wake up early, and shower so you feel ready to go. Do not smoke for at least three hours before you interview. There will be time after. If you use cologne/perfume; use it sparingly. Cover any visible tattoos or piercings. Remember, you re interviewing for a job, so keep hair and clothes simple, conservative, and as comfortable as possible. Final Tips Stay positive and confident Use people s names when addressing them Look people in the eye Use active listening skills you learned in class Take notes without missing information or not paying attention. REMEMBER: Getting an interview is not your goal, getting an offer is. Planning Your Exit I. After the interviewer has wrapped up, highlight any II. III. IV. experiences, skills, or information that was not brought up during the interview. Ask any questions you had, but couldn t find time to ask. It is appropriate, when leaving an interview, to ask, When do you expect to make a decision. Their answer will reduce your post-interview-anxiety. State your continued interest in the job, organization, and target populations. V. Close with a firm handshake. VI. Follow up with a thank you card or letter: thanking them for the opportunity to interview and restating your interest in the position.

7 Problem Interview Questions Prohibited Interview Topics: legislation requires employers to predetermine interview questions and ask them of every applicant. There are certain topics that employers may not ask about; in order to minimize hiring discrimination. Below are some of the rules regarding these topics. Age - At the time of an interview, an employer may not inquire about your age, though you will have to disclose your birthdate on internal and benefit forms if you get the job. Arrests - For most positions, interviewers may not ask about your arrest record, though they may ask about convictions. Convictions - Employers may ask about convictions if all applicants are asked, and the conviction has bearing on job performance. Disabilities - Employers may only ask about disabilities that may hinder ability to perform job duties. Family - Employers may not ask questions regarding family planning, family size, children s ages, child care plans, or spouse s employment or salary. You can be asked about your ability to travel and to work the schedule required for the job; however these questions must be asked of all candidates. Health (including mental health) - During an interview, it is prohibited to be asked about your physical or mental health, including wether or not you have received psychiatric care. You may, however, be required to complete a drug test upon employment or take a physical for appointments in the armed services. Height and Weight - Unless you are applying to the armed forces, an employer cannot ask about your height or weight. Marital Status - Nothing may be asked about marital status, including engagement plans. Organizations - Questions about organizational affiliations that indicate race, color, creed, or marital status cannot be asked during an interview. Pregnancy - Questions about planned absences and anticipated length of appointment may be asked, but they must be asked of all applicants. Religion - Questions regarding religion are prohibited, with the exception of religious-based organizations, which may interview and discriminate on the basis of theological difference. How to handle problem questions: It is never easy to react to uncomfortable questions, but the following tactics will reduce the negative impact these questions have on you. Careful Listening - The above topics may be brought up during the conversations that naturally occurs during any interview. Example: during an interview, you are asked if you have ever attended a Black Action Society benefit while discussing exemplary special event planning. Your answer may indicate membership in a race-based organization, and you do not have to answer if you choose not to. Be aware that these tricky questions are very common, even if they are not asked maliciously. Keep Positive - Even if you decide that you don t want to work for an organization, respect the interviewer s time and consider your professional reputation by staying positive and avoiding hostility. Ask why a particular problem-question is important or reframe the question so that it is appropriate. For example, if asked How would you describe your parenting style respond, Are you asking about my opinions on juvenile intervention? Redirect the Interview - Use the interviewing skills you have learned and practiced to redirect the interview, addressing the professional question within an inappropriate question and disregarding the uncomfortable part. For example, if asked about your parenting style; respond, My experience at CYF and training at Pitt has taught me about effective juvenile interventions, such as... Don t respond, politely - Interviewers know that certain topics are off-limits, though they may unintentionally bring them up. When this happens, if the above tactics will not work, you always have the right to say something like, I appreciate your interest in this particular facet of my life, but I don t feel comfortable responding to that question at this time. Remember, interviewers can ready body language and sense subtext; you always want to avoid sarcasm and hostility; for your professional reputation, if nothing else.

8 Thank You Letters Six Sections of a Thank You I. When - Begin your thank you by recalling when you last saw the contact. II. What - Tell the recipient what they did or said that you are thankful for. III. How - Tell the recipient how their time, information, or services have been helpful. IV. Why - After an interview, remind the recipient of your qualifications and skills for the position. V. Future - Make a statement about your hopes to see or work with the recipient in the future. Thank You Tips Timely Delivery Write your thank you notes as soon after an interview, meeting, or conversation as possible, and don t wait more than a week. If you interview for the same position multiple times, then send multiple thank you notes. Thank Everyone Often, an interview is done by a panel, in which case you should send a thank you to everyone on the panel. Also, be sure to send a thank you to any contacts or references who you mentioned during the interview or meeting. VI. Thanks, Again - Always end your not with a second thank-you-statement. Dear Mr. Doe, It was very nice meeting with you last Monday. Thank you very much for taking time to discuss the case manager position. I learned a great deal about Agency X, and feel with my extensive background in gerontology, I will be a valuable addition to the treatment team. I hope that we will be working together soon. Again, thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Applicant XYZ Examples Write or Type? Handwritten notes are more personal than typed notes, but they are also more prone to illegibility or spelling/grammar mistakes. If you are uneasy about handwriting your note, then type it using plain text like Veranda or Times New Roman. Extra Information If you forgot to tell an employer something about yourself you feel they need to know, use the thank you as your opportunity to highlight additional information not covered during the interview. Use Snail Mail Whether you type or write your message, send it through the mail for added personality. Dear Ms. Smith, I had a very pleasant time meeting with you for lunch last week. I found our conversation about Agency X very helpful. I called them over the weekend, and went in for an interview today, which went very well. Again, thank you for your guidance and allowing me to name you as a contact on my resume. I look forward to seeing you again so that I can tell you more. Sincerely, Applicant XYZ

9 Job Offers What to expect... First offer In most cases, an employer will call or schedule a meeting to offer a position. This is a very exciting step, but there s still a lot to consider. This offer is not binding, and you do not have to accept on the spot. Thank the employer by reiterating the points you made in the thank you letter (excitement about the position, gratitude for their consideration, etc.) Take time to review the offer You don t have to accept the job at first offer. Accepting a job requires understanding: the position, salary, and benefits. Considering the offer carefully ensures that you are well-prepared when you begin. Look for the following in a formal offer... Compensation What does the job pay? Your benefits statement should include a designation of the annual salary or hourly wage offered. It should also explain if you are paid on part-time or full-time basis, and what is the pay schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). Full time exempt/non-exempt. Insurance Benefit statement should describe the type of insurance offered and set out employer/employee pay rates, premiums, and deductions. Start-dates should be clear, as well as whether or not spouses/domestic partners or children are covered under the plan. Daycare If the agency provides daycare on-site or compensation, they should set out the terms of the program in the benefits description. Flextime Sometimes, employers will require that you work a specific number of hours per week, and allow you to set the schedule. A job offer should explain if these options exist, if you can work from home, and if you can have mid-week days off. Retirement Retirement programs, employer/employee responsibilities and contribution schedule should be included in the job offer. Also, they should describe the procedure for rolling over accounts between careers and early-withdraws. How to ask for time If you ve received an offer, you are the best candidate for the job, and the agency wants you to join their team. It is acceptable to ask for some time to review the offer. Use language such as: General Response Thank you for the offer. I m excited about this position and I d like to discuss the offer with my family (parents, spouse, partner, etc.), Can I give you my reply tomorrow (by Friday, within the week, etc.)? If you have applied and interview to multiple agencies: Thank you for the offer. I m really excited about this position, but I m currently reviewing a few offers. Can I give you my reply by next Monday morning? Vacations & Holidays The benefits statement job offer should include a statement about the vacation and holiday policies. These vary from place to place, so consider: if you are being paid hourly, are you paid extra for working holidays? do vacation days roll over from year-to-year? Relocation Bonus If you are moving to a new city to work, are you being paid for relocating? Personal and Sick Days The benefits statement should describe the number of personal and sick days you are provided during the first year, and the policies for each year after that. Also, your responsibilities, like bringing a doctors not or notification procedures should be examined in the benefits statement. Maternity/Paternity/Family Leave Federal legislation requires that employers provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child, placement of a child in foster care or adoption or to care for an immediate family member during times of crisis. Your agency may provide partial pay or work-from-home options, which would be described in the benefits statement. Travel Reimbursement The agency s policies concerning travel (day-to-day, occasional, eventbased, local or long-distance, etc.) should be laid out in the job description or benefits statement, including their policies for gas/time/ travel reimbursement. Performance/Salary Bonus Some positions provide a performance or annual salary bonus, the specific details of which should be provided in the job description of benefits statement. Evaluation Schedule/Procedures How and when your performance will be evaluated should be outlined in the job description. Supervision policies, chain of command, and grievance procedures should also be included, so that you know how to keep yourself in-line with the agency s expectations of your position.

10 Negotiation and Job Acceptance The Negotiation Process Starting a new job begins with accepting the job. After you ve had time to absorb the written offer, considered the pros and cons, you should meet in person to negotiate the specifics of your position, compensation, and benefits. Before You Negotiate... Common Areas For Negotiation... Do your homework If you are going to negotiate a job offer, you must be prepared to defend your request for higher pay, flextime, tuition assistance, etc. Immediately after reading the formal offer, visit the United Way Salary and Benefits Study and search for comparable positions. Look to see that you are being compensated adequately for your position, location, and experience. Prioritize Come to the negotiation meeting with a clear idea of what you want the most, and discuss the more important points first. Plan your strategy For each point in the job offer that you plan to negotiate, prepare a three-sentence statement explaining exactly what you want and why. Consider Alternatives Negotiating requires compromising. Before the meeting, consider what you will request if you are not given the accommodations you re asking for. For example, if the agency won t increase salary, will they pay for licensure? Things To Keep In Mind Salary Salary is the most common point for negotiations. After considering your specific monetary needs and comparable salaries, figure out what amount specifically you are seeking and why, and stick to this during negotiation. Licensure/Continuing Education/Clinical Supervision If you are direct practice, consider asking the agency to pay for your LSW exam if you haven t take it; provide the required supervision for LCSW, or pay for the required continuing education courses. Remind them that helping you to get your LCSW will enhance the agency by providing an additional LCSW on staff. Tuition Assistance If you plan to go back to college, ask the agency to cover a percentage of the tuition. Keep in mind that your new degree should somehow benefit the agency by enhancing your credentials, and agencies have varied policies about employer/employee responsibilities, which you should be well-versed in. Professional Memberships It is possible that the agency will pay for your membership to NASW or another organization that is linked to the agency or their client population. During negotiation, stress the benefits of professional membership. The ball is in your court Without becoming arrogant, remember that being offered a position means you are the best candidate and it is within your rights to negotiate the terms of your position. Stay Positive Negotiating is sometimes uncomfortable, but remain positive and avoid hostility. Before your meeting, consider how you will react if you re denied increased salary or modified benefits. Silence is golden One of the most effective ways to get what you want is to put your offer on the table and wait for a response. Avoid terms like, is it okay? or would you mind?, instead saying I d like or I feel I should... Do you need a meeting? If you are coming to a meeting with more than five points for negotiation, ask the employer for a meeting specifically to negotiate the job. Final Job Acceptance Most Cases At most agencies, you and the employer will sign a formal job offer, beginning your employment with the agency. You should be provided a written and signed description of the position, compensation, and benefits. Offer vs. Contract Contract - legal document that requires you commit to a position for a period of time. Job Offer - description of position/compensation, but doesn t determine length of post in signing either, you promise your employer that you will fulfill the duties of the position, and they promise to provide you with the work, compensation, and benefits set out in the formal offer. At-Will Employment It s important to note that while equal-opportunity legislation bars employers from firing on the basis of race, creed, sex, age, etc., in some states, it is legal to terminate employment without severance or explanation. Ask your employer, before you begin about termination policies. It is better that you know upfront.

11 Fellowships Fellowship (n) - an endowment established or a sum of money awarded to a scholar engaged in advanced research in a particular field. Fellowships: provide an opportunity to continue the educational process by using the skills you acquired from class, practicum, and experience while being supervised by experts in an interesting social work field. are often springboards to exciting and successful careers are excellent opportunities to network and collaborate with important professionals often provide a comfortable living stipend and/or benefits often do not require that you have extensive professional experience because you will be so closely supervised are often in new and exciting cities, like Washington D.C. Online Resources Social Work Excellence Fellowship Fairview Social Work Fellowship Social Work Training Program Social Work Grants Yale Child Study Fellowship Walter Reed Army Medical Center Fellowship Center for the Study of Social Work Practice Fellowship Directory Simmons School of Social Work Scholarships, Awards, and Fellowships Preparing and applying for a fellowship Plan Ahead Often, fellowships do not begin until a few months after graduation. Consider: Where are the programs I want to apply for? When are the deadlines? Do I need a letter of reference? What will I do for money between graduation and fellowship? What will I do about my lease/ mortgage if I plan to relocate? Family considerations? Do I have a vehicle I will have to register in a new state? Do I want to/can I defer my student loans? Get Info When you are considering a fellowship, write to the organization and ask them to send all pertinent information, including prerequisites, required tasks of the fellowship, start/end dates, fees/compensation, etc. Also ask for the contact information for this year s participants and begin a dialogue with them to determine what their experience has been and any suggestions they have for you. Be Realistic Because fellowships are often a continuation of the educational process, grades and academic performance are often the basis for acceptance. Consider your grades and avoid getting too hopeful for placements that your GPA, major, or concentration may prohibit you from. Prepare Educational Resume Fellowships require that your resume highlight your educational and related professional experience. When you prepare this resume, make sure to highlight your coursework, GPA, field placements, and relevant volunteer efforts. (Consider this resume and application similar to a college program application. Writing Sample You may be asked to submit a writing sample from coursework as part of a fellowship application. These are often between 5-10 pages, and may be a complete work or a section of a larger paper. This work should be recent (completed within the past year). Also, take the time to craft your sample to the best of your ability, utilizing the guidance of your professors, the University Writing Center, friends, peers and family. your writing sample should exemplify your best social work writing and analyzing skills and must be free of spelling and grammar errors.

12 Professional Memberships Why you should join... Events Professional organizations hold conferences, symposiums, and special recognition events that allow members to learn about developments in social work practice as well as interface with social work innovators, who are, through your common membership, peers and constituents. Networking In addition to holding events and conferences, professional organizations offer a chance to meet and greet your social work peers. This valuable opportunity allows you to expand your professional network, which will be useful as you search for jobs, build relationships, and apply for positions. Career and Educational Information Many professional organizations provide a private job database accessible only to members. Moreover, finding a job through such a database provides a common ground between yourself and the agency, even before you apply for the job. Policy and News Professional organizations serve their members through conveying information about the social work climate, including proposed, passed, and ideal legislation, and often provides information for pushing social work agendas through our elected officials. Research Most professional organizations provide a regular newsletter or bulletin that will include new research in social work, allowing you to stay on the cutting edge of new social work practice. You may not know... Resume Builder If you join a professional organization, such as NASW, you can print your membership status on a resume. This will convey knowledge of current social work issues and developments that extend outside the classroom or field placement. Demonstrate Commitment In addition to conveying knowledge, membership in a professional organization shows employers and admission officers your commitment to a thorough knowledge of the current social work atmosphere. Keep Active Professional social work organizations will provide ample information about current social work practices, emerging best practices, and debunked social work theories. This knowledge is invaluable as you move out of the classroom and the knowledge gained during college becomes stale, or less-salient. Volunteer Opportunities Part of the social work values is a commitment to volunteerism. Many professional social work organizations provide opportunities to engage in volunteer activities with other social workers, which may serve as a networking event, if you choose to make it so. Student Rates Many professional social work organizations offer student rates for membership and scholarship for large events. You can join while still in college and show your commitment early in your career, and begin networking before graduation. Also, some organizations offer additional benefits. Online Resources NASW The National Association of Social Workers is the foremost professional social work organization in the United States. They provide up-to-date social work information and have state and regional offices. Student rates available, and membership includes hotel discounts, discounted continuing education credits, life insurance, and much more. Membership in this organization is a must for all social workers. CSWE Membership in the Council for Social Work Education will provide you with current information about social work programs, classes, theories, and practices. AASWG The Association for Advancement of Social Work with Groups, Inc. is a NPO that advocates, researches and promotes group social work. Membership here is a must for Community Organization majors. LSWO The Latino Social Workers Organization is a bilingual NPO that seeks to advance the practice of social work with oppressed and minority groups, especially Latino and Hispanic persons. NABSW The National Association of Black Social Workers has a special focus on advocating and addressing the social issues that impact the health and welfare of the black community.

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