Careers in Social Work

By: Sadie

As you may have read in my previous post about social work, I discussed what exactly social work is, what social workers handle in their profession, and what the social work program is like here at UMD. Today, I’m going to talk about some of fields you can go into after you graduate with a social work degree, education requirements for social work, and certain disciplines that intersect with social work.

Careers in Social Work

So, if I graduate with a social work degree do I have to be a social worker?

The answer is no. This is something that I questioned before I decided to pursue a social work major. I didn’t want to be limited to only being able to be a social worker.

Here are some of the places that social workers practice:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Criminal Justice Systems
  • Government Agencies (i.e. services to children and families, services to adults, financial assistance)
  • Mental Health Clinics
  • Private Practice
  • Policy (i.e. Local City Council, State Legislature, Congress)
  • Residential Treatment Centers/Group Homes/Shelters, etc.
  • Community Agencies that address domestic violence, homelessness, community development, disabilities, etc.

Is having my bachelors degree enough to get a career in any of these professions?

For some, but not all. Depending on the type of field you want to go into you may need to go through more schooling. If you decide to further your education you can get a Masters of Social Work (MSW), your Ph.D. or Doctrine of Social Work (DSW), or you can get certain licensures.

What could I minor in, or double major in with a social work degree?

Many disciplines intersect with social work. Psychology, Sociology, History, Biology, Psychiatry, Economics, and Political Science are all majors or minors that compliment a social work degree.

Here are some other helpful sources that go more in-depth with what you can do as a career with a Bachelor of Social Work:

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Change is Hard

By: Willow

When thinking about what to write for this blog post, I drew a blank. I have a list of ideas I want to write about that I usually pull from, but for some reason none of those seem to fit this week. So I decided to write about what my last two weeks have been filled with, change.

We lost the election, it was really hard. Me and countless others put months of our lives into this campaign and it ended with one sentence from a newscasters lips. “We’re calling it, all your hopes and dreams from the last four months are dead.” No, of course they didn’t say that on air, but that’s what we all heard. And it hurt.

So, all the Iowa Democrats did the only thing they could do, they packed up and went home. I went back to my parents house in small town Iowa and then came up to Duluth. In just two weeks time I have moved states, started online classes, ended one job, and restarted two others here in Duluth. It’s been a lot of change.

Change is not easy for anyone. It’s scary, it’s exhausting, it’s draining, and it’s really stinking hard. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it to question what you have for something better. It’s worth it to understand something new.

Dr Seuss quote

I am trying to keep into perspective how much I’ve gained from taking time off. But it’s still hard, and it can be really upsetting. Too often we think if we’re upset, there is something wrong with us. That’s just not true. Life is really hard sometimes, and as long as we keep growing, we will come out on top.

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College Connect: Interviewing and More

By: Glen

After meeting my mentor at the kick-off event, despite my knowledge that they have had numerous experiences in fields that I am interested in, I was still inexplicably skeptical that I would be able to work the relationship in a way that would be educational and positive for the two of us. I knew I needed to keep an open heart to make this work. With this in mind, I jumped into my next two meetings with my mentor to figure out some goals.

Lunch is Good

At the kick-off event, my mentor and I had scheduled a time to meet up for lunch before the next College Connect event. As it turned out, this was a spectacular idea. My mentor showed up with numerous ideas to involve me in their work process, so I can learn the different aspects of the positon. What better way to learn about a specific job in a specific environment than to get in and observe? Besides discussing ways to make this a real mentor/mentee relationship, we were able to talk about common interests. I found out that my mentor has spent time in the past participating in theatre, as I do currently. Overall, I was glad I gave our relationship a second chance, as my mentor and I were beginning to relate to one another much more easily.

Passionate Interviewing

Upon arrival to the second College Connect event (hosted at UMD this time) many of the mentors and mentees were confused as to what was going on that night. Originally, we were supposed to have a dining etiquette night, but our event registration was titled “Speed Networking,” which was what we did at our first event. With a skeptical crowd piled into a lecture hall, the organizers of the College Connect program surprised us with a good lesson.

To open the event, we watched an advertisement that showed a company doing a “normal” interview with people, before switching it up and creating an interview that went through things such as the interviewer collapsing, a fire drill, and a person jumping from a building into a firefighter trampoline. The oddities and invalidity aside, the advertisement has a point. Good interviews should leave the employer with knowledge about the person they interviewed. Will the person fit in with the goals and vision of the company?

With those ideas in mind, we spent the rest of the event talking with our mentors and other mentors about our “brand.” What are you passionate about? Can you effectively communicate that passion to a stranger? After discussing passions, we took turns practicing listening skills. We were only allowed to ask questions, and not allowed to insert any comments. These communication practice sessions were useful tools to discover the different aspects that go into an interview. The person being interviewed can control the conversation to play into their strengths by answering questions in a way that directs questions toward your passions.

So far, I feel the College Connect program has been a successful endeavor. I have learned a number of lessons about myself, including the willingness to open up to someone outside of my age range, communicating effectively, starting random conversation, and discussing strengths.

Of Possible Interest:

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What Tests are Needed to Become a Teacher in Minnesota

By: Whitney

When I decided to switch my major to teaching, I figured that there would be a couple of tests I would be required to take before I was able to become a certified teacher. What I didn’t realize was just how many tests I would need to take. Even after being in the program for a couple of years it has never been made super clear what tests and how many I will need to complete to receive licensure to teach in elementary (K-6) and special education (K-12) in the state of Minnesota. What is almost as important to realize, is how much it really costs to become a teacher. The following paragraphs will talk about the tests, costs, and time length of each test needed to become an elementary or special education teacher.

The first set of tests that is needed for all initial license no matter which license you are wishing to obtain is the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examination (MTLE): Basic Skills Tests. The basic skills test, tests teacher candidates in the areas of reading (60 minutes), writing (105 minutes), and mathematics (75 minutes). The reading and mathematics tests are in a multiple-choice format and the writing is a mixture of multiple choice and constructed response questions. Each sub test costs $25 and must be passed with a minimum score of 240. This price does not include the annual $50 fee that must be paid in order to take the exam. The total cost to take the MTLE Basic Skills portion of the test is $125 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

The next set of tests that is required for all teacher candidates is the MTLE Pedagogy Tests. There are two 60 minute subtests for each pedagogy test in the areas of early childhood, elementary, and secondary. Each subtest is multiple choice and costs $35 each. The total cost for this test if you have to pay the $50 annual fee is $120. If you don’t need to pay the annual fee then the cost would be $70. These tests must also be passed with a score of 240 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

After the pedagogy tests, things start to get a little trickier because there are different licensure exams for various fields that are available. For right now I will just be focusing on the exams necessary for licensure in the field of elementary and special education.

To be certified to teach elementary education there are three different subtests that must be taken. All are called elementary education. Each test is an hour in length and costs $35. Each test is in a multiple-choice format and must be passed with a minimum score of 240. The total cost of these tests if you pay the annual fee is $155 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

Finally to be certified as a special education teacher from ages birth to 12th grade you must take the “Special Education Core Skills” subtest. Each of these tests is 60 minutes in length and cost $35. Again if you have to pay the annual fee it is $120. This is also a multiple-choice test that needs to be passed with a minimum score of 240 (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014).

One of the very nice things about each of these tests is that each subtest can be taken separately. For instance, if you think that you will do better on the Basic Skills tests if you take the reading, writing, and math all on separate days then you can certainly do that! What is also great is that if you pass the reading and writing, but don’t pass the mathematics portion of the test, you only have to retake the mathematics portion not all three!

The edTPA or Teacher Performance Assessment is also a requirement. Since this is a much bigger topic I will discuss it in later posts. For more information on licensure exams for elementary and special education or on other teacher candidate licensure requirements visit

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Greek Life at UMD

By: Logan

At most college campuses Greek Life is a big topic. Every movie about college displays Greek Life in one way or another, for better or for worse. These organizations are as old as the University itself and the traditions continue to strive. In this post you will learn how Greek Life organizations help improve the campus and surrounding community, and how joining a Fraternity or Sorority can help you and your college experience.

First, let me give some background on fraternities and sororities as a whole. Greek Life systems have been around since the 1800’s at many universities around the world. The basic concept of a Fraternity or Sorority is a unified body of students dedicated to service and making long lasting relationships. Many people get the impression that Greek organizations are strictly devoted to partying and nothing else. This persona is usually displayed in college movies such an Animal House and The Neighbors. It is disappointing that people have this expectation for Greek Life because there are many benefits and experiences that can be had by joining one of these organizations.

UMD’s Greek Life consists of five fraternities and four sororities. The Fraternities list as follows: Phi Kappa Tau (which I am currently a member of), Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Kappa Psi, Alpha Delta, and Alpha Nu Omega. The sororities are Phi Sigma Sigma, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Beta Lambda Psi, and Kappa Beta Gamma. I have been involved with UMD Greek Life since Fall of my freshman year and I have had many great experiences from it. Greek Life has 3 main areas of focus: Social, Service, and Philanthropy. This means that our organizations are involved in Social aspects, such as meeting and getting to know other Fraternities or Sororities; Service, which involves our volunteering and work hours; and Philanthropy, which is the raising and donating of money to charitable organizations.

The media only tends to show the social aspect of Greek Life, but they never talk about our service and philanthropy events. Most organizations have their members complete a certain number of service hours per semester to show that they are doing volunteer work in the college or community. Another stereotype of Greek Life members is that they are not as involved in their studies and academics. This is very untrue. Almost all of the organizations require everyone to have a certain GPA to join, and if their grades fall too low they will be put on probation or even kicked out of the group. This holds members to a higher standard and requires them to concentrate on school before concentrating on other Greek Life events. Fraternities and Sororities are also a great way to get involved in leadership positions. Each Greek Organization has multiple positions that the members can run for, almost like Student Government. So any member can gain great Leadership skills by running for and being a leadership position holder. Fraternities and Sororities are also great for networking. Since many Greek Organizations on campus are very old, some members still live in the area and can help by donating money or just from networking. Larger organizations have multiple chapters across the country which is also very beneficial for networking. To help with this, the organizations plan big leadership events that all chapters can attend. There members can learn valuable leadership and networking skills that can benefit them in the future.

As you can see, there are many benefits to joining a Greek Organization. It can be helpful for building your resume, or just making your college experience more enjoyable. I strongly recommend any student that is interested in leadership, service, and brotherhood (or sisterhood), to come meet the Fraternities or Sororities and learn more about them. You can also learn more about the organizations by looking under Student Organizations in Campus Life on the UMD home page.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Confessions of a Former English Major – Part 2

By: Katie

Part 1 of “Confessions of a Former English Major” looked at the skills you gain as an English major and how they make you stand apart from other majors. Part 2 focuses on how you can connect those unique skills to a career and become what some people think English majors can’t be: successful.

The Possibilities
When I was an English major, getting the typical “What do you want to do with that?” question always made me groan internally. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, and honestly, I didn’t know what all my options were. So, trying to tell someone what I wanted to be when I grew up was a struggle. What I’ve learned during the time I’ve been in college is that English is a major that prepares you for work in a variety of fields and settings, and one that gives you a wealth of options to choose from based on your interests.

Confessions English Part 2

The communication skills, writing skills, and general people skills that English majors gain in their studies prepare them for rewarding careers in the non-profit sector. They can organize fundraisers, communicate with an organization’s donors, and create strategies to help an organization succeed.

Law and Politics
Many former English majors have pursued careers in law and politics after school. English is one of several majors that pre-law students can choose to help prepare them for the field. Beyond that, English grads can become politicians in different levels of government. For example, Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts and Presidential candidate in the 2012 election, graduated with an English degree from Brigham Young University before entering the political world.

Most people wouldn’t expect it, but you can actually find English majors all over in the world of business. There are UMD English grads working as marketing managers, account managers, and insurance agents (Grad Follow-up Report: 2012-13, 2011-12). English majors can be public relations directors, account executives, proposal managers, sales account managers, and a host of other positions.

Journalism and Writing
Many (if not most) English majors love writing, and would like to find a career which allows them to get paid to do what they love. There are several options within this area, including social media writing, copywriting, grant writing, and technical writing. Journalistic writing or reporting is another option English grads may gravitate towards, including one UMD grad who has become a news reporter at WDIO/WIRT-TV in Duluth.

Never fear, English majors can also teach. They can go on to teach English at the college level or secondary levels, as a second language, and even abroad. Some UMD English grads have found teaching positions in Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. If you’re more interested in working in education as something other than a teacher, you can also find more administrative positions in schools and universities.

These are only a handful of the areas in which an English major can be successful. Studying English gives a student a wide range of knowledge and skills and prepares them for an evolving working world that increasingly is looking for employees with the ability to think critically, come up with new ideas, and work with a diverse population. If you are an English major, be confident in your choice of studies. If you’re not an English major, think twice about saying the degree is useless. An English major just may be your boss someday.

To see what other past UMD English grads are doing, check out the Graduate Follow-up Report. Another great resource to discover the possibilities is O*Net, which gives you information on possible careers as well as their related skills, areas of study, salaries, and much more.

And just for fun, here are some other English grads you may have heard of: Sting, Conan O’Brien, Barbara Walters, and Steven Spielberg. You’re in pretty good company as an English major. Own it.

Of Possible Interest:

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Advice From Recruiters

By: Cameron

Recently I was a part of a group who was able to sit down and ask recruiters questions about what they want from students who are applying for jobs and internships. The following post is a list of those questions and some of the recruiters’ responses.

Is it important to have unrelated extra-curricular activities on a resume?

Recruiters aren’t just looking for a good student. They are looking for a well-rounded individual. Showing that you participate in other activities tells them a lot about you. Even interests can sometimes have a place on a resume. For example, if you live in Texas and you’re applying for a job in northern Minnesota the recruiter or employment manager is going to want to know why. Listing on your resume that skiing and hunting are some of your interests show the employer that you will fit in well with the northern Minnesota community. Volunteering is another major activity that probably isn’t directly related to the position, and it shows that you have good work ethic and values that may align well with the company’s vision. Clubs are another good source for showing off skills such as teamwork and communication. A recruiter would rather see a student with a 3.5 GPA and some extra curricular activities than a student with a 4.0 GPA who only went to class. So yes, even unrelated extra-curricular activities are important on a resume.

Is an objective necessary on a resume?

The general consensus among the recruiters was that objectives are “silly”. Most of the time they don’t even look at it. This makes a lot of sense if you are applying to a specific position and the employer already knows exactly what you’re looking for. Having said this, if you are just sending your resume to a human resources person via email they might not know what you are applying for. In this case, it may be worthwhile to include a short objective saying something like, “Seeking to obtain full-time employment related to mechanical engineering.” In general, the objective is still a subject that is debated among professionals. Most of the time including it on a resume is a matter of opinion.

What is your biggest pet peeve on a resume?

The first answer to this question was “big paragraphs of information”. Recruiters like to be able to skim resumes, and long paragraphs make it difficult to pull out the important information. A good way to avoid this is to break your sentences up into bullet points. Occasionally there will be employers who want you to have every detail possible on your resume, but more often than not bullet points are the way to go.

Another recruiter said how much she hates things like using color or putting your picture on the resume. These flashy/artistic choices may look neat, but they are typically seen as unprofessional. Unless you are some sort of art, theatre, or other creative major, you should keep the resume basic and in black ink.

What is your biggest pet peeve at a job fair?

All of the recruiters agreed that a poor introduction from a student is a huge pet peeve. If you walk up to a recruiter at a job fair and just stare at them or give them a bad handshake things tend to get awkward. Have a short introduction prepared and some questions to ask them. Keep the conversation flowing and relevant to the situation.

Another major pet peeve of recruiters was dressing inappropriately. Women should stay away from super high heels, low cut shirts, and short skirts. If you can’t walk in heels, don’t wear heels. Also, men should be conscientious of sweat. If you know that you sweat uncontrollably, then wear a black shirt. Regardless of the gender, make sure you dress nice, meaning no shorts or jeans.

Other advice from recruiters…

Recruiters are one of your biggest assets when applying for the job! A lot of people have the misconception that it’s you versus the recruiters. This is false. Recruiters are your advocates. If you make a legitimate connection with a recruiter they will go to the employment manager with your resume and say, “We like this person.” At a job fair it is appropriate to ask them if your resume looks good, what you should expect at an interview with their company, how should you dress for the interview, etc. Ask these important questions and you will stand out.

Something that would not be appropriate would be to ask the recruiter at the end of an interview is what you could have done better. The time to do this would be after you have been notified that you have not been offered the position.

In summary, it is important to remember that employers and recruiters are looking for a person, and not a robot. Be conversational and showcase a variety of skills. Hopefully this blog post has given you some insight into the mind of a recruiter.

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