As the semester of my first year as an MSW student was coming to an end last May, one of my professors said to me, “Enjoy your last summer.” I giggled a little to myself, thinking about the fact that I will probably be working for the public school system pretty soon. In a way, this may actually be my first summer. However, those words did stick with me. It’s my last summer as a grad student. It’s most likely my last summer a student in general. I started thinking about all of the things that I want to do before I graduate- and all of the things that I have to do before I graduate. This is a pretty important year for me and I want to take advantage of all of my opportunities.
When I look back on my experiences as an undergraduate, one of my biggest regrets is not getting involved in campus life as much I could have. I didn’t go to many sporting events, I didn’t participate in any intramural sports, and I wasn’t involved in many campus social clubs or activities. I vowed to change this when I got into graduate school. I wanted to go to games, participate in campus life, and take advantage of the plethora of resources that a public university can provide. That’s why I decided that I want to get involved with the Graduate Student Association this year. It’s going to be a big commitment on top of my internship and Graduate Assistantship, but I know it will be well worth it.
Being involved in the GSA is something that I want to do, but I have to balance it with the things that I have to do: complete my internship; complete and present a in-depth research project; and do well in my classes. In addition to my scholarly tasks, I also have to start planning for my career future. I’m beginning to think of where I want to work, where I want to live, and what exactly I want to do with my MSW degree.
In the past I have lived by the motto, “Work smart, not hard.” I definitely still pull from this from time to time, but I have come to realize that working smart isn’t always easy. I’m trying to “work smart” by tying my research project in with my internship. This could actually lead to creating a job for myself after I graduate. This is definitely a “smart” approach, but it’s certainly not going to come without a lot of hard work and effort.
And then there’s licensure- another thing that is not going to be easy. My MSW program is clinically focused. Everyone in my class came into the program with the goal of becoming an LCSW. This is one of the reasons that I chose this particular program. I love that I have courses devoted to specific therapy models and get to practice individual and group therapy sessions during class. It’s a great opportunity for all of us to get some experience before going for our licenses. Everyone in my class is anxious about the clinical level ASWB licensing exam. We don’t know what to expect, and as one of my classmates brought up, most of us are not great test takers. We’re used to writing papers and discussing situations. Apart from the dreadful GRE, I don’t remember the last time I had to take a multiple choice exam. We’ve all made a goal to study together for the ASWB exam and hopefully take the exam right after we graduate.
It’s great to be in class with a group of people going through the same thing that I am. It makes it easier to deal with some of the stressors of grad school, insecurities about internships, and ability to manage life in general. I know that I will keep in contact with my classmates for a long time and probably encounter them in the professional setting as well. Even though this year is going to be a true journey with ups and downs and it’s going to take a lot of smart and hard work, I know it’s going to be worth it in the end.