2 answers

Can I get advice on social work and politics?

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Right now I am pursuing a bachelors degree in Social Work. I am also pursuing a minor in public administration and a certificate in community resource management. Recently I have become interested in politics and local government. If I do eventually run for office or pursue a local government position, would a degree in social work put me at a disadvantage from other candidates?

#social-work #politics #political-campaigns #government #local-government

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Kim’s Answer

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Hi Deana,

In that we are both in Texas, I'm going to try reading a little into the question you are asking. Hope you don't mind! Also, you say you are already in college, so this advice is written from an adult perspective.

If you intend to stay in Texas, you need to consider that parts of the state are very conservative. There are more liberal people in places like San Antonio and Austin.

When people hear the term "Social Work," they often assume you are a "bleeding heart liberal." Yes, that can work against you. You would have to campaign harder to overcome their stereotype image of you. Sort of like what happens when a person who is applying for a job has no HS diploma. It creates a barrier. If you are seriously considering running for office, especially in Texas, you might want to rethink the major.

The minor and certificate are good! Why not consider majoring in Public Administration with a minor in Social Work? Does your school offer Urban Planning? It's important to understand the issues facing the community, but, as an elected official, you will be spending money, deciding how to solve problems, how to allocate resources. It is more like running a company, and it is those attributes that some of the more conservative voters will be evaluating. They will also be looking at your ability to get things done. Collaboration skills. So also look at getting involved!

There are people who get elected with Social Work backgrounds here in San Antonio, so, yes, it is possible!

Let me know what you decide!
Kim
Thank you so much for the insight! My university does not offer a degree in urban planning, but I will look into taking individual courses on the subject in the next few semesters. I am looking to stay in the DFW area, so I'm not sure if the bleeding heart stereotype will apply. Regardless, I will make sure that I am well rounded and go outside of just my social work environment. Again, I appreciate your help! Deana A.
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Angela’s Answer

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Hi Deana:

I think you are on the right track and you are not at a disadvantage. Pursue what you are passionate about, do great work and take on new challenges and experiences as they come. The minor is public administration will be useful in your interest in working for a local government. I'm currently work in local government and know some executive leaders (department directors, assistant city managers, and city managers) who have social work degrees. It's important to have very strong finance and budgeting skills and experience. There are lots of training/conference opportunities in local government, take advantage of those to keep building your skills. Networking and building strong, positive professional relationships are probably to most important to be successful in reaching your career goal.

Best of luck

angela
Thank you Angela! It's good to know that this is not a path I will be making by myself, and there are role models that I can follow. I am required to take at least one finance class for my major, but I see now that money is an important factor. I will look into more budgeting courses. Thank you for the advice about going to conferences! Deana A.
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