Welcome to Fall…
the end of summer, warm weather, and loafing. However, it also indicates a new beginning… of classes, cold weather, and pumpkin EVERYTHING (bread, coffee, candles, and beer).
The fall is a great time for goal setting, starting anew, and for refocusing our energies to get us to the finish line that is the end of December and the holidays.
So I offer a few tips for those of you coming off of summer to start the fall strong!
Update Your LinkedIn
Several years ago, I was not a fan of LinkedIn for many reasons that involved the feeling that it was an elitist bougie MySpace copycat. IggyFunFact: I jumped ship from MySpace before it was trendy to jump ship from MySpace.
In recent years, I have accepted that all types of people use LinkedIn to network professionally. [I should write the primer for social work professionals on dos and don’ts of LinkedIn]. When people Google your name, you hope this is the
first only thing they see.
While things are fresh on your mind, consider updating any projects you might have completed, job changes, and seek out those who you may have worked with and would recommend your strong qualities.
It goes without saying that you should play nice with people: your professors, classmates, and in your field placement. Although you should practice good boundaries, remember that working with annoying, toxic, or rude people is not a forever thing and that this is an opporunity to learn how to deal with those types of people*.
Playing nice with others can have its benefits. It has the potential to lead to meaningful relationships (e.g. mentorships). Sometimes, these relationships can lead to job leads or recommendations for that job, scholarship, or educational endeavor you want to get.
Put Your Needs First
There is a huge difference between being self-centered and putting your own needs first.
Putting your needs is about being fair to yourself (and others) while weighing the consequences of your choices. Being self-centered is about taking what you want or need, by whatever means necessary while being unfair to other people.
If you’re a social work student, especially at the graduate level, I want you to remember one thing:
You’re paying for school.
And whatever loans you’re taking out will stay with you until you die or you pay them off.
School is an investment of time, money, and energy… often, sacrifice is a part of that commitment. At the same time, you get breaks in between semesters that last from 2 to 3 months.
The outcome of your investment and sacrifice: your education that involves a degree and a skillset no one can take away from you.
Sign Up for Counseling Now
In the first few weeks of the semester, a student should make their way to their counseling center. I believe that ASWB should make it manditory for all social workers to receive 40 hours of counseling between graduate school through the licensure process… Still, I think having a place to vent and developing coping skills* is a good idea for the helping professional that’s working to obtain their degree.
At your University, even if you’re may not need it now, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the process of how to get therapy or counseling. If there’s a registration process of some kind, e.g. an assessment, you should probably sign up for that now.
As the semester progresses, you might get wait listed as counseling services are impacted because you and everyone else is in the middle of freak-out mode due to overwhelm.
Make a Self-Care Plan
At risk of being cliché, you can always download and fill out a Self-Care Plan to keep handy. It’s a tool to prevent burnout and promote wellness. I tell my clients to put it in a place they can see it every day, e.g. closet door, mirror, door to your office, etc.
My self-care plan gives you an opportunity to figure out who your support system is and who you can go to to feel better.
There are a few essential self-care behaviors that are important to take care of your mental-physical-spiritual health: exercise, sleep, and human interaction are my top three. As a professional, I often become busy, so I try to pick one thing and do it: For me, improving sleep hygiene tends to affect how I eat, my energy level, my ability to focus, and to what extent I have patience towards others.
Digitizing Your Classes and Syllab/-us/-bi
Paper is King. When I was in school, I would print out my syllabus and carry it with me in a folder for each of my classes.
Sure, you can carry around thousands (and access millions) of pieces of paper on your smartphone and tablet, but the most gratifying thing ever was to cross out projects, assignments, and exams as I completed them.
I am also a big fan of plugging in important assignments into a digital calendar, where I’ve created one calendar for each class. For me, it lets me know to expect that weeks 8 and 9 are probably going to be very hectic with 4 presentations, 2 group projects, 4 papers, and 2 exams.
As syllubi are quite malleable (and professors are sometimes amenable to shifting assignments around when presented with the previous paragraph’s example), assignments on a digital calendar are easy to move around or change.
The benefits of having a digital calendar is that you can turn on and off each calendar as you want. When I am on vacation, I turn off my work calendar and email so that I can truly unplug from work.
On iCloud, you can make multiple calendars.
Here’s are steps to activate/deactivate individual calendars using Google Calendar.
Get Yourself a Dropbox
The cloud is your friend. It’s empowering to sign up for:
When using these services, you would save your projects to a folder located inside the directory that syncs to your Dropbox account.
Why? I don’t mean to be disempowering, but there are two types of (traditional) hard drives: those that have died and those yet to die. If you have a flash hard drive on your laptop, then there are two types of laptops: those that have been stolen, and those that have yet to get stolen. If you carry around a USB stick, then there are two types of USB sticks: those that have been misplaced, and those…. well, you get the picture.
You can also consider using Google Docs, Google’s version of Microsoft Word. This is a great tool to use when collaborating with others*.
As I previously mentioned before, relying on a USB drive is just asking to have your heart broken.
Get Yourself an Evernote
I still stand by Evernote as a great tool for people that want to learn. It’s a great place to dump information that may or may not be useful.
How I Organize my Evernote
In Evernote, you can make many folders, just like in real life.
You can then group those folders into a Stack.
Three folders that I have for all my life domains are
- “Active”: Where I put notes or documents I’m going to need now or soon.
- “Default”: Where I put notes or documents that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with.
- “Archive”: Where I put notes or documents that I no longer need for the moment, but that I don’t want to delete.
After my three folders, I tend to put a colon “:” followed by “[Domain or class name here]”, e.g. Active: SW212: Human Behavior Soc Environment
So my Stacks would look like (with folders in the stack):
- 01 SW212: Human Behavior Soc Environment
- Active: SW212 Human Behavior Soc Environment
- Archive: SW212 Human Behavior Soc Environment
- Default: SW212 Human Behavior Soc Environment
- SW212: Paper – Theory and Reflection
- SW212: Presentation, group – Psychodynamic Theory in Latino Culture
- et. al.
- 02 SW204: Human Svcs and Pub Policy
- Active: SW204 Human Svcs and Pub Policy
- Archive: SW204 Human Svcs and Pub Policy
- Default: SW204 Human Svcs and Pub Policy
- SW204: Paper – Public Policy in My Field Placement
- SW204: Presentation – Human Services Principles
- et. al.
Notice that I start each naming of my stacks with a “01, 02, etc.” Also notice that class 211 comes before 204. My stacks reflect the order that I go to each class. Also, I would throw in folders for projects (as needed) and file notes and ideas accordingly.
That’s all I have for now!
If you have any tips you want to share
please leave a comment on my blog
*death to group projects
- Beetle Rock Sunset #1, Sequoia National Park, by H Matthew Howarth, Taken on August 17, 2012, Under Creative Commons License: Attribution-Sharealike
- Commencement, by Basheer Tome, Taken on May 8, 2010, Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
- Social work conference 2015 29, by University of the Fraser Valley, Taken on April 29, 2015, Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
- handshake, by Broad Bean Media, Taken on October 20, 2012, Under Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike
I liked how you mentioned that people studying to be social workers should see a counselor often. My brother is wanting to become a social worker and he was wondering how he could get through school easily. I’ll be sure to tell him that he should see the counseling center often when he’s in school to be a social worker.