Knowing My Value (With Help From Career Services!) | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
MSW Student Brigid Welch
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Knowing My Value (With Help From Career Services!)

I came back to school because I wanted to be a counselor. Before entering the MSW program, I worked in higher education student affairs--mostly in housing and residential life. My work included emergency response and informal counseling with students. I was good at these parts of my job and felt called to the work. Students told me that they were relieved when I was the one who showed up for a crisis. It doesn't feel right to say I "enjoyed" these crises, but I felt like I was fulfilling my purpose. Many people have told me that I have a calming presence. I am able to think quickly and calmly in chaotic situations. I am able to hear about intense trauma and remain useful for the person who is in pain and fear. I learned these things about myself which help lead me to my next steps.

Now I am at the end of my grad school experience (mind blown). This past year and a half has gone fast in a way that I cannot fully articulate. Having one semester left, it is the time to start my career search. Going to school was about the goal of becoming a licensed counselor. That's still the plan, but my options feel more open than I originally imagined.

I'm not what you would call a "futuristic thinker" so questions like, "Where do you seen yourself in 10 years?" always make me feel anxious and confused. The last few years have provided some clarity. I feel in touch with my values, identities, professional and academic interests, and motivations. Since strategic thinking is not a strength, I find it helpful to talk with trusted people in my network, like the Office of Career Services at the Brown School.

Brown School Career Services offers over 1,000 individual advising sessions a year (along with a great deal of programming), and it is very easy to schedule an appointment with one of their career advisors. These advisors are specific to the Brown School, and are well-informed on the job market for social work and public health practitioners. Career Services' motto is "Know Your Value; Find Your Fit." In other words, they want each Brown School student to graduate with the ability to articulate what each of us will bring to our employers, and use that awareness to find a career path that fits our goals and aspirations.

When I sat down for an advising appointment with Lee Koelliker, Director of Career Services, he helped me make sense of my thoughts about my career path. He asked about my experiences before grad school and about my career aspirations. He was encouraging, and affirmed my ability to articulate my interests. It was a comfortable conversation, like one I would have with a close friend. I was able to direct the conversation, as well as seek out Lee's advice when I asked for it. 

I asked about upcoming events and he told me that there is a Career Weekend in January designed specifically for Brown School students. It is a conference-style program where we can attend workshops and speakers to support us in the career search process. There will be workshops on topics such as salary negotiation, mock interviews, interview attire, coming out to employers, networking, and resume review. The keynote speaker is Keisha Mabry an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur. I am very grateful for this event and plan to attend as many sessions as possible.

Also, I found out recently that we can utilize the resources of the Brown School Career Services for the remainder of our career! That is comforting when I think about possible promotions, moving cities, or licensing transfers. Moments like these remind me that I am surrounded by supportive staff every step of the way through my program… and after!