When I began graduate school for my Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree, email was available as text only. The internet did not exist yet. Times have changed and technology has grown in leaps and bounds and opened doors for many. The benefit to this is bringing people together around the world who would not interact with one another otherwise.
Some fear this technology and others embrace it. What I find beneficial is the ability to access information at my leisure right from home or work and the ability to connect with other professionals in my field around the world.
Many professionals become immersed in their current work and there is little opportunity to network with other social workers, but social media has changed this. Blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great examples of this change. I have been involved with LinkedIn for almost 2 years now. Overall I can say it is a great place to connect with other professionals, and take part in discussions related to one’s personal as well as professional interests. One gets out of it what they put into it.
In many ways, social media is like graduate school- like minded individuals coming together to discuss issues, to promote ideas for change and to share information. Oh and not to worry, education and awareness occur as well!
I, like many other BSW or MSW degree holders, work in the fields of social work and social services. No matter whether one has a micro or macro focus-we need to focus on being united vs. divided as a profession. Social media is a wonderful place to promote our unifying characteristics and while this is Social Work month, the focus of being united should take place all year long and not just one month a year.
As a start, use the month of March to promote the profession, what you like about the profession, what you would like to see improved as a profession via the very powerful tool of social media. Use the month to reach out and connect with social workers around the world through LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, Facebook and other social medic avenues. Bring up issues of advocacy that you are involved with, bring up ideas for research, share information related to your area of work (i.e. seniors, youth, healthcare or mental health) or anything that is of interest to you, join chat discussions on Twitter and begin the process of networking with others using social media!
Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW
SJS Staff Writer in Canada