Human services is a broad discipline that aims to help people across all walks of life and all demographics improve their quality of life. While many may believe human services workers only deal with adoptions and child protective services, this simply isn’t the case. Human services jobs exist in all areas where compassionate individuals provide essential care and resources for children, adults and the elderly alike.
Take it from Abby Farnham, a guest services manager working with the Elam Davies Social Service Center in Chicago (EDSSC). Abby believes that the best way to prepare for an education in human services is to gain experience in the industry first. That’s why she agreed to share her experiences and thoughts with us. Read on for Abby’s professional insights into the world of human services.
A journey toward greater stability
As the guest services manager, I am typically the first contact our clients have when coming to the agency. On a typical day I work closely with clients helping them to meet basic human needs through food and clothing distribution. I also provide case management services focusing on employment and housing. On the weekend I serve as the supervisor for our weekly community meal program called Sunday Night Supper. The main focus at the EDSSC is to meet basic human needs while also working with partner agencies to support them on their journey toward greater stability and self-sufficiency.
The work I do is fascinating
My agency is inside of a large church that is nestled in the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. Working in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chicago makes the work I do fascinating, as clients, tourists and local residents are continually interacting with one another.
Social work can be difficult
Due to budget cuts, many agencies have had to narrow their focus of work. As a result, it has been very difficult to “navigate the system” for the different clients I work with. So many individuals with serious needs for assistance in housing, mental health and general health care are unable to obtain the support they need because of the lack of resources now available.
But it is the most rewarding field
There is no better feeling than helping someone along their path toward goal achievement. Last summer I began working with a client who had been unemployed for almost 20 years because of severe depression. Together we started with the basics of resume building and interview skills, something he lacked confidence about. Throughout the summer we mapped out his interests and focused on his interpersonal skills. By the end of summer he had multiple interviews and secured an employment position that he has now held for nine months. Experiencing the success of a client truly makes social work the most rewarding field.
I use the skills I learned in school daily
During my foundation level, I was able to learn more about general social work practices focusing on race and ethnicity, human behavior and strategies for community intervention. I was then able to choose a specialization based on my interests. All of the skills I gained are used daily in my interactions with clients.
It’s important to experience the industry
Growing up in rural Kentucky, I had no idea what urban social work would look like. Because of the experience I gained through volunteer and service work throughout my undergraduate degree and internships I held during my graduate education, I was more prepared and more aware of what the industry would hold. I think it’s important to experience the industry before making any decision about a potential career.
If you’re ready to pursue a rewarding career in social work, Shorter University can help you on your path. Our Bachelor of Science in Human Services lays the foundation for entry-level careers in social work such as becoming a substance abuse professional or an advocate for children. Others may choose to continue studies in a graduate program.
While in the program, students will explore human development from birth to old age, delve into diversity and tackle topics in abnormal psychology, all while learning case management and counseling skills. Shorter University provides students with a liberal arts education; graduates are well-rounded, cultured and self-aware individuals who are ready to face the challenge of shaping a better world.