Megan’s Advice – Volunteer!

My name is Megan Lish and I graduated from PUC in 2009 with a degree in social work. If you have a passion for serving others and you want a career that will allow you to pursue that passion, social work might be the right path for you.

Me (far left), with Social Work professor Fiona Bullock (center)

Me (far left), with Social Work professor Fiona Bullock (center)

From the time I was young, I knew I wanted to do something with my life that allowed me to help people. I took different career tests in high school, all of which told me I would do best in a service-oriented job. During my College Days visit to PUC, I went to the Social Work Department and picked up a flyer that had a simple message on it about social work being a profession about love, care, and compassion. I took the flyer with me, and I remember thinking, “That’s the perfect description of what I want my career to be like!” I signed up for Intro to Social Work in the fall and never looked back.

Being involved with the Social Work Department gave me the opportunity to do some cool things: I was part of a group of students and teachers that went to the State Capitol to lobby for social welfare issues; I was involved in the Social Work Forum and helped facilitate and keep records for the Angwin food pantry; and I also had the opportunity to visit and learn about the different social service agencies locally as well. Of all the opportunities I had as part of the department, the one that had the biggest impact on me was my internship. All social work students are required to complete a yearlong internship, and my internship was at a skilled nursing facility in Napa, working under a social worker. Three months in, I was given a small caseload to maintain and was able to perform many of the duties she did – under strict supervision of course! It was a great experience because I was able to learn what it’s like being a real social worker in a real social services office.

Since the Social Work Department is relatively small, I formed great relationships with my professors throughout my four years at PUC. They were not only great educators, but they were great role models. I learned how to be a caring and compassionate social worker and also a better person. I feel blessed to have been taught by them.

Currently, I work as an eligibility worker in Sonoma County where I determine people’s eligibility for public assistance programs like Medi-Cal and food stamps. My job is fun, fast paced, and always gives me an opportunity to learn something new. I use things I learned from my social work education every day in dealing with clients, many of whom are in crisis situations and need help very quickly.

Here’s some advice for anyone considering a future in social work:

  1. Research! There are lots of possibilities for jobs and you might find that your dream job is attainable with a social work education!
  2. Don’t be afraid to visit the department and become acquainted with the teachers and students. It’s a welcoming place and no matter who you are, you’ll fit in.
  3. Step out of your comfort zone! Some topics you will study might be things you’ve never thought about before, but remember, you’re learning about real issues that exist in the community and you’re learning ways to help people who may not be able to help themselves.
  4. Take every opportunity to participate in volunteer work with the department. The easiest way to learn what social work is all about is to live it.

I hope by now this post gives you a good idea of what it’s like to be a social work major. If you’re considering this as your future path, I encourage you to move forward with it! There will always be a need for great social workers and PUC will prepare you to be just that.