If you are passionate about helping others and making a difference in society, a degree in social work might help you obtain your dream job. To make ends meet and finance your education, it might be necessary for you to work while you earn your degree. A position in a social work or human services field can help you gain valuable work experience and give you an edge above other candidates when it comes time to begin your professional job hunt.
Social Work Assistant
Social work assistant is one of the most beneficial jobs for social work students, because it provides you with direct professional experience. The minimum educational requirement is usually just a high school diploma. You will get the chance to observe and learn while working under the direct supervision of qualified staff members. Positions may be part- or full-time, in the evenings or on weekends, so you may find a position that suits your scheduling needs. You can work in diverse settings, such as hospitals, nonprofit organizations or social services agencies, performing administrative duties, helping clients with concrete needs, like food stamps, and assisting social workers with their daily tasks.
If you want to specialize in child and family social work, a position as a childcare worker can give you hands-on experience helping care for children. Many universities and colleges have on-site childcare centers that tend to the children of employees, but you might be able to find a position in an off-campus childcare center as well. The minimum education for childcare workers is generally a high school diploma. Child care workers are usually employed during regular business hours, which can benefit students whose classes are in the evenings, on weekends or on days when they have no class.
Residential counselors help care for people who are unable to live independently. In the field of social services, they usually work in homes for people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, the homeless or troubled youth. They usually need to have a minimum of a high school diploma, but some positions may prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees; such positions are best for graduate social work students. Residential counselors provide round-the-clock care, helping people with direct needs and teaching daily living skills, such as feeding, grooming and social skills. Since they work part- and full-time, during the day, in the evenings, on weekends and on-call as needed, most students can find positions that fit their schedules.
If you just want a job during the summer months, a camp counselor position might be ideal for your needs. You'll not only have the opportunity to have fun and work outdoors, you'll also act as a youth mentor. Social work students might be drawn to camp counseling jobs because it can help them develop the skills they'll need to be effective social workers. For example, camp counselors must display leadership and communication skills, help foster self-confidence and model responsible behavior, according to adolescent counselor and school psychologist Stephen Wallace in an article for "Camping Magazine." Camp counselors can work at day camps during regular business hours or at sleep-away camps, where their schedules can vary based on the organization's needs.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.