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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
4 Jan, 2017

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Leaving New York City?

By | January 4th, 2017|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me. 

Ebony, a social work graduate student, writes:

I just completed my first semester in [my social work graduate program] and I  have some questions which are not really being answered in my school. I’m not sure if it is because I am one of the few black women in [the program] or if the my advisor really does not have any answers for me.

I graduate in May of 2018 the the plan is for me to have my MSW along with a certification in child welfare. Shortly after graduation I plan to take the exam for me to get the LMSW. I really want to  get the LCSW because I eventually I would like to open up my own practice working with the youth and obtain my DSW. My dilemma is that I would like to relocate south to Georgia or Florida. I would like to move to a place where it does not snow and the cost of living is lower. I have been living in New York all my life. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I do not want to wait until the last minute of my graduate school career to have a concrete plan.

 

You may recall that I was asked a similar question by another student, only Ebony’s question is the opposite: leaving New York City to work elsewhere as a social worker. Here, I focus on what I felt was Ebony’s primary need: how preparing for the LMSW or LCSW exam (and transferring those scores and licensure) varies by state.

Many students wait until their second year (and sometimes the final semester) to think of the next steps in their social work path, so it’s great that Ebony is thinking about her trajectory while in her first year.

And yes, the cost of living in New York City is significantly higher compared to many southern cities, and that’s always been a major draw for many folks moving down south. While it provides lots of career opportunities, it can feel like a completely different world to a native New Yorker. As a Georgia native, it didn’t take long for me to adjust to life in New York, but many of my native New York City friends had to get used to the slower pace of southern life, even in major cities like Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami. That doesn’t mean the same will apply to Ebony (or to you if you’re planning to make a similar decision), but I just wanted to throw that out there.

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20 Jul, 2016

Ask Nicole: Any Advice for Social Workers Moving to New York City?

By | July 20th, 2016|Categories: Ask Nicole, Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post

If you have a question that you’d like to share with the Raise Your Voice community , contact me.

 

I recently got an email from Stephanie, a graduating social work student:

 

I stumbled upon your Instagram today and was pleased to see that you are a social worker who currently resides in New York City; I graduate with my MSW in August and plan on moving to New York City from Florida, thereafter.  Living and working in New York has always been a dream of mine. In preparation for graduation I’ve been doing some online job searching, but  most positions that offer a viable wage require that you are licensed. My passion is working with children, families and women.

What advice would you give to a new social worker looking to move to New York City who isn’t licensed and wishes to work with children and families or women?  Are there any specific agencies you would recommend applying to?

 

Stephanie’s question is interesting because it encompasses many factors, of which I’ve come up with several questions that I hope can guide Stephanie (and you) in thinking more about the next steps in living as a a social worker in New York City:

What is your ideal social work role?

This question can be answered based on where you are currently (education-wise) as a social worker. Do you plan to work as a micro level social worker, mezzo level social worker, or macro level social worker? Do you plan to work at one level for your entire social work career, or do you have expectations of moving up or blending different levels of social work? If you’re interested in working with women, youth, and families, what does that mean? Reproductive or maternal health? Crisis management and prevention? Substance use? Mental illness?

How are you looking for social work positions?

This question ties into the first question. Stephanie mentions women, children, and families as potential populations she wants to work with. In addition to identifying if you want to work at the micro, mezzo, or macro level, are you looking for counseling positions versus case management, teaching versus facilitating workshops, etc?.  I was able to land a case management position within 3 months of graduating, working directly with adults impacted by HIV/AIDS and homelessness. As social workers, we’re conditioned to look for positions that explicitly have “social worker” in the title when there are plenty of organizations and agencies that recommend having the skills of a social worker but it may not be mentioned in the position requirements. I had lots of experience in conducting workshops around youth engagement, sexual/reproductive health and justice, and the like prior to grad school, but felt that I needed something that mentioned “social work” or “case management” in the title. If you find a position that interests you but doesn’t mention “social worker”, highlight in your cover letter and interview how being a social worker lends itself well to that position. The MSW degree is one of the most flexible degrees out there, and the skills we learn can translate to a variety of roles.

What setting do you want to work in?

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15 Jun, 2016

“My Name is…, and I Represent…”

By | June 15th, 2016|Categories: Activism, Program Design & Evaluation, Social Work|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Blog Post

 

Does you voice matter less when you’re not part of an organization?

This became part of my consciousness back in 2012 when I attended the Strong Families Summit. I was invited to assist with Strong Families’ social media team to highlight the goals of the Initiative, the participants’ general feedback, and how the Initiative can move forward.

As attendees introduced themselves, they shared the basics (name, organization, preferred gender pronouns, and their intention for being present at the Summit), and as they shared the name of their organization, there were a few attendees that said:

“My name is [insert name], and I’m representing myself”   or

“I’m [insert name], and I work with [insert name of organization], but I’m speaking on behalf of myself”.

Of course, in discussions around issues pertaining to sexual health and reproductive justice, or any topic that may be controversial, it’s important to raise our own voices. It’s also important to be mindful that what we say may have an impact on whatever group or organization we’re representing.

When I was part of an organization as a front line social worker and direct service provider, my actions and interactions with clients either had a positive or negative effect not only my clients’ impression of me but also that of my organization. Now, as someone who runs her own business, I’ve been able to reflect on the fact that I’m fortunate enough to be representing myself apart from an agency or organization. I’m able to flow in and out of multiple spaces and can be a social worker, program designer, speaker, or program evaluator at any given time, and I can be known for one aspect or all aspects of what I do.

Knowing this, I’m also mindful in how I represent my business in person, through email, or on social media, can impact who wants to work with me as a client. We definitely see this in today’s political climate, sports, and entertainment industries where people quickly lose their endorsements and support.

But back to the original question:

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14 Jan, 2016

How to Manage the Growing Pains of Being an Expert

By | January 14th, 2016|Categories: Activism, Program Design & Evaluation, Social Work|Tags: , |2 Comments

 

At the 2015 American Evaluation Association (AEA) conference in Chicago, I attended a session called “Meet the Pros: Intermediate Consulting Skill-Building Self-Help Fair”. It was a 45-minute skills-building session that featured experienced independent evaluation consultants (including Norma Martinez-Rubin of Evaluation-Focused Consulting, Jessica Pugil of The Working Partner, Susan Wolfe of CNM Connect, Laura Keene of Keene Insights, and Stephanie Evergreen of Evergreen Data) who provided insights and advice on lessons-learned on managing a consulting business.

It was a can’t-miss session for me, so much so that I had to get up at 5am, leave my AirBnB near the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus at 5:45, grab breakfast around 6:15 and wait outside the session room by 6:30. Luckily for me, most people don’t show up for a 7am session, and I was the first one in line.

Set up in the style of speed dating, participants circulated to different topic areas (strategic planning for longevity, managing community dynamics, finding spaces to work outside of the home, how to select projects, and branding). Each facilitator also provided a useful handout that outlined their expertise and recommendations for managing a consulting business.

Compared to attending my first AEA conference in 2014, I strategically chose to attend sessions that centered mostly on independent consulting and business management, program design, and data visualization. I also chose sessions that were more skill-building focused as opposed to panels, listening to research findings, and the like. Starting a business can be rewarding and stressful. Not only are you putting yourself out there as an expert, you have to do everything that comes with managing a business (including paying yourself and employees, reviewing contracts, getting insurance, and the like).

For the longest, I felt more comfortable in my role as an activist, and then eventually a social worker. Given the beginnings of the profession, social work’s ethical principles are in alignment with being an activist. While program evaluation is a requirement in the social work profession, I sometimes look at the practice as being completely separate from social work (and this is in spite of studying it as a graduate social work student. I’ve written several blog posts on how I became a program evaluator and a reproductive justice social worker. It’s an ever-evolving process, and I still strategize on how to integrate my social justice side with my analytical side.

Whether you’re a social worker, evaluator, activist, or occupy another role, there will be times where you feel you don’t measure up. Attending all the sessions, reading all the books, and networking with all the people can’t erase those feelings that you may not know what you’re doing. In reality, you know exactly what you need to know at this moment. How can you leverage the skill sets you have, and managing those icky feelings that come up when you don’t feel as legit as you’d like? Those feelings are merely your inner critic, and that voice will come up no matter what you do. Here are some ways I’ve found to manage it: (more…)

10 Jun, 2015

Ask Nicole: How Did You Pass the LMSW Exam on the First Try?

By | June 10th, 2015|Categories: Social Work|Tags: , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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Here’s a question I recently got from a Raise Your Voice reader:

Hi Nicole! I am currently studying to take the licensed master of social work [LMSW] exam in my state. I’m a little nervous because I’ve been out of graduate school for a few years now. While I’ve been working as a social worker since then, I feel so far removed from studying that the thought of actually taking this exam brings up a lot of anxiety for me. Can you share what you did to take the LMSW exam and pass it on the first try?

Before I give my advice on preparing for the LMSW exam, I want to share the process I underwent that led me to pass the LMSW exam on my first try. As a disclaimer, this is what *I* did. In no way am I’m advocating for anyone to do the same. 

I graduated from my social work graduate program in May 2010, and I took the LMSW exam on March 31, 2014. I’m mentioning this for one important reason: While I do recommend taking the exam as soon as you’re eligible to take it (which depends on your state. There are some states that will allow you to take the exam during the final month of your graduate program), it is possible to take this exam and pass it years after graduation.

Some things I considered prior to registering for and taking the exam:

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