I would like to report that my first week of classes went off without a hitch but that would be a lie. There a minor bump in the road which resulted in a schedule change. I think this worked out in my favor though. I landed myself in the Loss class, which is new, and am really excited about it. It is not just about death and grieving, although that is certainly a big part of the class, it covers all kinds of loss people experience throughout their lives.
I definitely am picking up a theme this semester, “leave your baggage at the door”. I am also taking Assessing I and Social Justice and this has come up in all three classes so far. In one we were required to fill out an anonymous survey regarding our feelings towards certain groups etc. ie: “When I see homeless people I think _______.”
In the loss class we will be writing a paper about all the loss we have personally experienced in life and are expected work through it in this paper. All of these steps are to help us become unbiased and prevent counter transference with our clients.
I have mentioned previously that I have encountered some classmates who, while very nice people, do not seem that self-aware. I think these exercises will help with that. I think it is healthy to reflect on your feelings about certain topics and life events and make sure you have completely worked through them. I look forward to these activities.
So other than the hiccup in my schedule the first week of class did go well. Hospice is going well also. Last week they were short-handed so I worked three shifts. I particularly enjoyed my Friday shift because I was working alongside one of the people from my training class. He is one of the only other “young” adults that I have encountered while volunteering. Most volunteers are at least 30 years our senior, many even surpass that. I love it though. I get along with the older adults so well and relate with their work ethic as well as other areas.
Last week while I was at Hospice I had the good fortune to meet one of the mental health counselors that works in the bereavement center. Upon first meeting we were discussing the different services the bereavement center provides, one of which is a day camp for children and young adults who have had a loss. I explained about my prior involvement with New Hope for Kids which then led to the counselor trying to recruit me to help with the day camp. I am excited about this new opportunity but unfortunately it sounds like it maybe scheduled for my wedding day which clearly will not work. She is going to keep me posted and if it does not conflict than I will absolutely be getting involved.
In the interim she had other needs that she feels I could meet and gave me the contact information for the volunteer coordinator in that department. It sounds like I may be making phone calls to check in on the family of loved ones who have passed. They also hold semiannual memorial services which I am interested in.
Today I had a long talk with one of the social workers on campus. She gave me tips and shared some insight into the field as well as the MSW program. A point that she brought up was that she felt I was smart for choosing the minor I did and becoming involved with Hospice because it makes me more marketable and gives me an edge. I have thought about this before, it is not why I have made the choices I have made but I realize it may benefit me when applying for grad school or jobs in the future. The thing she said that really scared me though is that there are very few jobs for social workers in central Florida.
I don’t know how someone just knows that kind of information off the top of their head. It could be that she was recently hired at Hospice so is familiar with what is available (or not) right now. It could be that she keeps an eye on this sort of thing. It could be that she has social worker friends that are actively looking and not having much luck. The truth is it could be a lot of things but her saying this scared me.
3 years might seem like a long time but I know better. I have been back in school for 2 years and it has gone by in a flash. Before I know it I am going to graduating with my MSW and attempting to get back into the work force. I will also need to start paying back the few student loans I will have taken out through out the course of my schooling. The time to start thinking about the future is now. The instructors talk so much about networking and I see why it is so important. When I am done with school I don’t just want to find a job, I want to find the RIGHT job.
My discussion with her today drove home a few points for me like how important grades, internships, volunteering, networking and just overall involvement in relevant work to the field is, while in school. While I am not working school is my full-time job and like any other position I have held I want to do my best. This means making good decisions, not becoming too comfortable, pushing myself, trying new things etc.
I really enjoy any opportunity I have to speak to someone in the field or in a related field, like the mental health counselor. It helps remind me what I am working towards and gets me excited about next steps.