Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Social Work is #1...

lowest paying job, that is. http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-1263

And I'm a social worker:0) I choose to do everything the hard way.
I'm trying to start posting about me, in addition to Sophia, because really how many posts can there be about poo, food, giggles?!? I'm trying to make a concerted effort to keep this blog going, because I like doing it. That means that I need to expand what I write about though.

So...I'm a social worker, and after graduating with my MSW 12 years ago, my first job earned $24k a year. It makes sense to me that the starting salary has gone up as it has. And at 24 years old, moved into my own apartment I was ecstatic with $24k. I managed to stay in the job about 13 months. I was a social worker in the true sense of the word. My clients were severly mentally ill adults discharged from the state hospital. I was required to follow-up with them weekly for 90 days after their discharge. I loved my clients. Therapy was not an option, as the great majority were not at that point, mentally. My day to day tasks mostly consisted of making sure they were simply maintaining. I wasn't looking for any earth-shattering improvement, just a simple maintainance of their lives. I paid their bills/helped them apply for benefits, I helped them grocery shop, I made sure they were taking their meds, their showers, I made sure they were eating. I loved most of my clients. Then, within a 6 week period the following happened.
1) a client locked me in an office and threatened my life
2) a client caught himself on fire and later died (smoking/cutting grass do not mix).
3) another client brought a gun into my office (not to hurt me). He put my hand on his pants so I could feel the gun.
4) a client's husband butchered her into pieces and the body parts were found days later, due to smell.

In isolation, none of these things would have forced my hand, but together I saw them as a sign it was time to move on. Plus, I was working about 40 minutes from home. I had just met Dan and he was also pressuring me to quit, based on all of the above incidents.

I quit that job, to move on to another about 10 mins from home, where I worked for 1.5 days. I hated it so much I left for lunch on the 2nd day and didn't go back. I woke up the next morning, applied for a server position and waited tables for the next year and a half. Let me tell you how pleased my parents were to be paying my Master's loan while I was waiting tables. Fortunately, I made more money as a server than I did at my "real" job.

I currently work at a major university, as a Project Manager in the same School of Social work where I gained my MSW. I work in behavioral research and feel like I do a darn good job. I have managed poorly funded grants and multi-million dollar grants; local grants and international grants; big grants and small grants. Timelines and protocols suit my controlling personality:) Sometimes I think my co-workers/bosses think I am better than I actually am. Maybe that shows where my self-esteem is, or maybe I am just good at fooling people. I don't know.

In my "Senior" book in high school I said that in 10 years I expected to be "a social worker, helping people." It's odd that I fulfilled that goal, without much effort. I currently make more than I ever expected to make as a social worker, and I haven't really come close to hitting the ceiling here at the University. I make enough that allows Dan to stay home with Sophia, and for us to be able to upgrade our condo soon.

I still don't think my parents are pleased with my choice of profession, although I know they are relieved that I work on a college campus instead of out of my car doing home visits. I still think about my clients from time to time. We live in an area of STL that is very friendly/open to the mentally ill, so I see them walking around. I know that they are sick. It bothers me sometimes that I am not doing MORE to help them, and am instead sitting inside a nice cozy office directing research projects. But it is what it is.

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