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Social Work and You! | Valparaiso University

Social work is a profession with the primary mission of enhancing human well-being and helping meet the needs of all people. This major teaches individuals the importance of communication skills, empathy, and compassion, while allowing students to find their true purpose. Within this program, students will take a variety of courses to build their generalist practice knowledge, which equips emerging professionals with the tools and skills to work either with individuals in a micro setting, groups or communities in a mezzo setting, or work with policy and legislation in the macro setting. Not only will students read about these skills; they will practice them hands-on in a variety of ways, such as through internship, working directly with legislators, and conducting interviews to practice communication skills.

With all of this being said, it is hard to choose my favorite courses from this program. But, to highlight a few, SOCW24O Communication and Counseling Skills teaches students how to conduct individual interviews while focusing on body language, verbal and nonverbal communication, and a variety of other micro skills. Additionally, SOCW356 Generalist Practice Individual allows students to dive deeper into their personal values, beliefs, and work directly with a “client” through the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Assessment. Furthermore, SOCW410 Social Welfare Policy pushes students to advance their understanding of the legislative process by working to have a piece of legislation introduced in the Indiana General Assembly, working directly with cohort members, legislators, and outside supporters.

Lastly, the Integrative Seminars that students take in their junior and senior years focus on the importance of self-care, self-reflection, sharing their internship experiences with other members of the cohort, and ultimately, connecting their hands-on learning experiences to the nine social work competencies.

Diving deeper into internship experience, this major allows students to immerse themselves in the profession by completing a 100-hour internship during the spring semester of junior year, and completing a 450-hour internship throughout the fall and spring semesters of senior year. These experiences give students the opportunity to witness the day-to-day work that social workers and those in the helping profession do, how they advocate for clients, connect clients to community resources, and even engage in policy practice. Without the experience gained from both of these internships, I would not have the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to either pursue a master’s in social work (MSW) or employment in the real-world.

With all of this being said, being a social work major, or even taking a couple classes, really opens your eyes to social injustices occurring in the world around us, ways to advocate for clients and address problems, and ultimately learn about different aspects of life. Lastly, this major allows students to be in a tight knit community of other social work majors and minors that work through the program together, creating a sense of belonging. If you are looking to serve those in need, make an impact, embrace leadership roles, advance your understanding of diversity and human rights, and collaborate with other helping professionals, then I encourage you to become a social work major, or try out some of our classes!

Makenzie Ward Picture


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