Thinking like a social worker

…any questions? Yes. I have plenty.

Sunday Evening Share: Spring Snow

If you are wondering about my week:

  1. I felt icky about Pallotta’s TED talk on increasing nonprofit overhead.  I understand innovation, but I also know how important our causes are, so how important it is to be good stewards of our finances.
  2. I cried reading about the father-daughter dance that took place at Richmond City Jail.  It really restored my faith in humanity.

I also found the below articles interesting.


Social Work

  1. Starting a career at a reproductive justice social worker
  2. Social work and liberalism 


  1. Scientists believe ending poverty hinges on tougher environmental goals
  2. Why there is little coverage of Americans struggling with poverty and Questions about coverage on poverty
  3. Can home visiting alleviate poverty? 


  1. Schools segregation by race and income worsening in the Richmond region
  2. Smart, low-income students are applying the the wrong colleges
  3. Richmond high schools create alternatives to suspension


Upcoming Free Webinars:

  1. List from Wild Apricot
  2. List from nonprofit webinars

I am looking for good resources on support groups and bereavement groups.  If anyone knows of any, please comment with the link below!

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Sunday Evening Share

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  The second week of March has treated me well.  I enjoyed the leadership talk with Rosetta Thurman, Trista Harris, and Paul Schmitz.  I learned that congress has a social work caucus.  I nodded furiously to Classroom to the Capital posts: Patience: An overrated virtue and There’s Always Something We Can Do.  I sadly missed the first Social Work Helper twitter chat about online advocacy, but plan to join the next.  And I mourned the coming loss of Google reader – any suggestions on something similar?

There was some great news this week:

And some news that won’t go way:

  • People are still arguing about raising the minimum wage.  (Which gives me a strong urge to punch people.)
  • NYC may still be able to enjoy oversize beverages, so NYC needs to find a new way to address connection between poverty and obesity.

Special Topics:


  1. Chicago Tribune investages Chicago Public Schools publishing An Empty-Desk Epidemic.
  2. David Sirota writes about possible hidden agendas of wealthy educational reformers in Salon.

Professional Development:


  •  The Science of Communication was a great presentation by Sendhil Mullainathan.  My epiphanies:   1.) Don’t tell people what to do, help them do it by making the positive behavior easier.  2.) Sometimes making a big impact means focusing on small changeable behaviors.


Upcoming free webinars:

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Sunday Evening Share: Injustice Everywhere

On Friday, the world celebrated International Women’s Day.  That same day I learned that  Zerlina Maxwell was harassed after saying men can prevent rape.  Seriously?!  As a social worker, do ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of injustice in the world?  If so, make sure to check out the social work section I will be including all March for Social Work Month.

Special Topics:

Social Work:

  1. Vice recently shared the view of a disgruntled social worker in SF which sparked social workers to share their their own opinions.  One discusses a differing opinion of working in SF; another expresses her anger at the post; and last discusses the obligation of organizations to social workers.
  2. The Political Social Worker discusses Social Work’s Visibility Problem.
  3. Classroom to Capitol reminds us to believe our clients.


  1. Video depicting the wealth inequality in America.
  2. Greg Kaufmann reviews two documentaries on poverty in America.


  1. A timeline of the Richmond region’s civil rights in public schools by The Richmond Times Dispatch.

Professional Development:

Free Webinars:

  1. Everyone Leads: 5 Ways to Step Up and Make a Greater Impact in Your Work – Monday, March 11th @ 12PM
  2. Who is poor in this country and why – Wednesday, March 13th @ 2PM
  3. Poverty, Public Education, and Corporate Influence – Monday, March 11th @ 8PM


  1. Conference on Race, Class, Opportunity and School Boundaries in the Richmond Region • March 13-14, 2013
  2. Articles on Creativity: Bruce Nussbaum explains how to find and amplify creativity.  Another blog asks Bruce additional questions about creativity.
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5 Tips for 2013 Graduates on Finding a Job and Keeping your Self-Worth

I graduated from VCU’s MSW program in May 2012.  While looking for the right job for me, I applied for 37 position, got 7 interviews, and 3 offers.  I ended up taking all three of those offers, but that’s a story for another day.  I am now very happily employed at a planning and coordinating agency working to end homelessness in the Richmond region, which I landed in September 2012.

Job search is scary and exciting and a great time for reflection.  The truth is that I loved looking for a job.  In true social work fashion, I learned about myself from the experience.  But I wish someone had reminded me of a few things upfront.  So, 2013 graduates, here they are and I hope they help:

Keep your cool by finding what works for you.

Job search is stressful.  You may feel pressure to start applying as early and as often as possible.  You will get unwanted advice and lots of questions about how the search is going.  Find what works for you – both your mental health and your application process – and stick with it.

I was a ridiculous job searcher, but my process kept me feeling in control.  The first job I applied to was in February (not helpful to my job search).  I was ready- equipped with a job leads binder and everything the internet had to offer on job search tips and best practices.  This process worked well for me, but might make you very anxious.

Find what works for you and remember: YOU WILL FIND A JOB.  It may take you longer than others, but you may get more than them from the process.  The position you land may not be perfect, but it if moves you in the right direction that is all that matters.

Use this time wisely and have a little fun.

People say that applying for a job is a full-time job.  This is true, for the most part, but please don’t sit in front of your computer all day looking for positions.

Use this time to figure out what you want to do with your life, what you don’t want to do, what you are good at, etc.  Connect with friends for (cheap) drinks-reducing stress and possibly learning about a new opportunity.  Ask to meet with professionals in your field of interest-they are typically happy to meet with students and young professionals to offer advice and guidance.  Find free webinars. Go to community meetings and workshops.  Heck, go on vacation!  All of this is part of job search and will help you find something great for you (except maybe vacation – but hey you deserve it).

Think of each application as practice for the next.

Remember how I mentioned those seven interviews?  Four came out of the last four jobs I applied to (all in August).  That makes my record for the first 33 applications pretty crappy.  The moral is: You get better applying as you move through the process.

Get started now and make adjustments along the way.  If you aren’t getting calls then your resume may not be working- send it around to family/friends/Career Services for review.  Or maybe those hiring don’t recognize your name- go into the community and meet people (and add yourself to Linkedin)!

Stay connected with other graduates.

You can feel really alone in the process – Like everyone around you are landing jobs.  This is most likely not true, but if it is – even better for you (your competition is thinning out).  The first job offer I received was a position a fellow graduate sent my way.  Since we were both looking, we would send positions to each other that seems like a good fit.  It was really helpful to have someone going through the same process to bounce ideas off of and to bitch with.

Hold out for the right job.

Don’t jump at the first community mental health position that you get offered.  (Unless you think it will be a good fit for you.)  You most likely will not land your dream job.  But if the position does not seem interesting, doesn’t earn the money you need to survive, or the organization seems sketchy it might not be worth it.  Of course, I didn’t follow my own advice, so don’t be to hard on yourself, if you end up in something that is not the right fit, stay there, but keep looking.  It is OK to do what is best for you!

What other guidance might be helpful to 2013 graduates?  

If you have recently landed a job, what helped you with your job search? 

If you are an upcoming graduate, what field you are interested in.  Maybe you can make some connections right here!

Happy Social Work Month!  March is social work month.  As a proud social worker, I will celebrate by sharing social work posts all month with my thoughts, professional development tips, and fun facts about social work.

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American Made: Smoothie edition

I am on a huge smoothie kick, after my mom got me the best Christmas present ever, a Vitamix blender.  I will put almost anything (apples, oranges, pears, bananas, rasp/straw/blackberries, kale, spinach, almond butter and the list goes on) in it to make a yummy liquid breakfast (on occasions not so yummy).  The other week, I found out that my beloved blender is made in America.  I got so excited I emailed my mom, who I think was less enthusiastic than I was.

“Vitamix products are built by hand in the USA with at least 70 percent American components.”

Now all I need is a Tervis Tumbler and straw and produce from my local market, and I will be a 100% American made smoothie girl.  (But I may love bananas too much to ever be 100%.)

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Saturday Morning Share: Avoiding sequestration

Happy Social Work Month!  This week seemed to be all about the sequestration, which is very depressing and frustrating to me.  So I have been avoided the topic all week.   Here are some of the goodies (minus the cliff) I found interesting this week:

Special Topics:


  1. Comparison of Benefits for Poor Families to Middle-Class Incomes Is Deeply Flawed – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (I blogged on this topic back in December.  CBPP gives a much more in depth look at the senate document.)


  1. Mathematica 2013 Report on KIPP Middle Schools Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes and a rebuttal from School Finance 101
  2. School Culture and the Civic Empowerment Gap – Harvard Education Letter 
  3. More Black Men in College than in Prison – The American Prospect

Professional Development:

FREE Upcoming Webinars:

  1. March listing of free webinars on the Wild Apricot Blog
  2. Addressing homelessness and mental health challenges – Friday, March 8th @ 9AM
  3. Who is poor in this country and why – Wednesday, March 13th @ 2PM

Anything I missed this week?

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