As with all graduate level students, individuals in a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program focus on acquiring the skills and practical knowledge required for successful completion.
While dedicating time and energy to coursework, you must also have an eye toward your future job search. Employers are interested in both your educational achievements and how in-touch you are with the industry.
A commitment to keeping up with industry knowledge will not only impress future employers, but will also give you a fresh perspective on coursework and help you be more energized about achieving your goal.
Here are 4 tips to help you stay up-to-date.
1. Join the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
There are over 130,000 members in the U.S. Membership benefits include access to local chapters, industry journals, and discounts to conferences. The thought leadership provided by NASW resources is unmatched in the industry, making this one of the best ways to keep an eye on the latest news and developments.
2. Read Industry Publications Like Social Work Today.
With 30,000 subscribers, this bi-monthly publication covers issues and challenges facing social workers, written by social workers. It features more in-depth, journalistic style coverage than NASW publications, with content specific to areas of social work like aging, mental health, and eating disorders.
3. Monitor Your State Social Work Board.
These boards announce important rule changes, publish training schedules, and post job openings. Their websites are good places to monitor board activity and, in many cases, you can sign up for email alerts. Find your local board at the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), a compilation of all social work boards in the U.S. and 10 provinces of Canada.
4. Network with Peers.
A cathartic break from coursework can be staying in touch with colleagues and talking with fellow students. This can be a venue for you to share stories and advice, hear about other local events, and find interesting job opportunities.
Networking can also give you energy and inspiration, especially as you reach the last phases of dissertation review. Expand your social work perspectives beyond what you may experience within your immediate circle of peers. You can find specialized groups via Meetup.com and LinkedIn.
Employers want to see that you are both skilled in practice and theory, and maintaining an active awareness of the industry. Staying connected to the social work industry while pursuing an online social work degree can set you apart from other candidates.