Social work’s roots are in affecting change. The field of social work is both a profession and a social science. It involves the application of social theory and research methods to study and improve the lives of people, groups, and societies. It incorporates and utilizes other social sciences as a means to improve the human condition and positively change society's response to chronic problems.
Social work is a profession committed to the pursuit of social justice, the enhancement of the quality of life, and the development of the full potential of each individual, group and community in society. It seeks to simultaneously address and resolve social issues at every level of society and economic status.
When most people think of social workers, they think of case workers: people who represent low income or disenfranchised members of society. And while this is one aspect of social work, it’s important not to get tied up with the term. Social workers enter many different fields. Here are just a few:
- Medical Social Work
- Community Development
- International Development
- Counseling: Therapist in private practice, School Social Work, Hospice Work
- Social Services or Health Care Agency Management
Professional social workers are generally considered those who hold a professional degree (master’s) in social work and often also have a license or are professionally registered.
Exposure to the Field, Shadowing, and Volunteering
Internships and other community service activities are highly valued by social work admissions committees. The more experience you have working with people, particularly in social service settings, the better off you will be. In addition, service provides you the opportunity to learn what type of social work environment motivates you. Consider getting involved in the Campus Y, a service fraternity, Habitat for Humanity, or some other service activity through the Community Service Office. Study abroad or living abroad also can be excellent experience for students to bring to the social work classroom.