Finding a school social work job

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Ambivalent in Seattle in Seattle, Washington

39 months ago

I am entering an MSW program at the University of Washington in the fall. Ultimately, I'd like to be an elementary or middle school social worker. I know these jobs are being cut left and right here in Washington... any tips out there from school social workers on how you got hired, and how I can be proactive while still in school? I am open to relocating to the Midwest.

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sighing in Southern, New Jersey

39 months ago

I do not want to appear negative, but finding a school social worker job is EXTREMELY hard, at least where I live. PLEASE do not go into your MSW program expecting you will find this job after graduating. Based on my experience and research, you either have to know someone, or be very lucky. People tend to stay in these jobs until they retire.

In my state (NJ), it is ALL about who you know in the education field. Politics are the most important aspect of the hiring process. I have my MSW, and interned in a school. The social workers there are no where near retirement age, and if budget cuts continue, hours may be cut to part-time for one of them. If someone was ready to retire, I would have probably had a great chance at being hired, because I developed a great reputation. But, at the same time, I may have lost out to someone's son, niece, etc.

I have the internship, previous teaching experience, and fantastic references. There have only been a few openings this year in my area, and I did get an interview at a public school. Unfortunately, they received a ton of resumes for this job. I have heard the person chosen was related to someone in the school. I went to the interview knowing that my chances were probably not great, but I gave it my all, and it gave me interview experience. I also had an interview at a private school-they received close to 100 applications.

I would definitely try to get to know people in the schools near you. You really need to try to get an internship in a school, but make sure you can tailor that experience to other jobs, in case you can't find work in a school. I know that a lot of schools only hire part time social workers, so keep that in mind, too.

I wish you luck, because this is a really tough segment of our field.

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