Somerset County Dept of Human Services Newsletter


As I reflect a bit on the marking this March of National Professional Social Work Month, I will unabashedly admit that at this stage of my career I have a full supply of “circles around the sun” and “more forehead than hair” looks. I am (much to my own shock) now one of the “old timers.” In my mind I am still the slim and hirsute young man who decided, over 35 years ago, to become a social worker and set out to make the world (or a small corner of it) a better place in which to live. I am sometimes asked by young folks considering such a career path the million dollar question: “if you had it to do all over again, would you make the same choice?” The answer – without hesitation is – indeed I would.

Youth is often accompanied by hope and belief and faith in the future. The world seems (for most of us who have been lucky enough to grow up in a loving and nurturing environment) a place full of possibility and promise. For many of us, this is the period where we first entertain the notion that what each of us does in our lives – both personal and professionally – matters. Some of us arrive at this via the values and behaviors expressed in our family of origin, or our “larger family” of friends and community (schools, places of worship or fellowship). Conversely, some of us come to this notion based on the things we’ve lived or observed that we wouldn’t wish on others – and feel therefore motivated to change. However one arrives at the decision to try to “change the world” the “how” of the matter becomes crucial and potentially life changing.

How does one professionalize being a “change agent?” For many of us, that professionalization has led us to choosing a career as a social worker. In practical terms, that has meant a choice to tailor our college education around a social work major or follow a liberal arts degree with post graduate work that makes us eligible for licensure (at a variety of levels, based on a combination of work experience and examination pas-sage).

I’ve already taken the position that this is a career choice worth making and here’s how I think about it…


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