We welcome back Marco Orlando to our blog with a continuation in the series “Wrestling With My Mind”
“STATE OF SOCIAL AND HUMAN SERVICES ADDRESS”
For the bulk of my entire adult life, I settled into a pattern of working part-time office jobs in mostly female-dominated workplaces, particularly in social and human services. I had been on both sides of the field since I was 14, and there was a part of me that had always wanted to give back to a line of work that had given so much to me when I was growing up. I also wanted to give people hope and inspire them, especially preteens and adolescents who were only beginning to come to terms with what made them different from other kids their age. I wanted to be a calming influence on them and let them know that I encountered a lot of the same challenges that they face, and that they could overcome those challenges as I did.
Granted, social and human services isn’t perfect. What line of work truly is? Most entry level positions don’t pay very well, so most organizations end up hiring people fresh out of high school or college to fill those positions, thinking they can do the work just coming in off the street. For more advanced positions, they will usually want someone with at least a four-year degree and some form of equivalent work experience. I’m all for trying to collapse the learning curve, but if someone is serious about making a career for themselves in social and human services, it’s just not realistic to try to give them ten years of experience over a handful of semesters in a traditional classroom setting.
I understand the temporary nature of social and human services and the resulting turnover rates. I could never fault someone for taking another job somewhere else if it means that they’re better able to provide for their family. Social and human services isn’t for everybody. It takes a certain frame of mind to succeed in this line of work. You should really care about the people you work with and the work you’re doing with them. Good people skills are important. If you don’t have good people skills, you won’t last very long.
There’s not a lot of money to be made in social and human services. Most workers are lucky if they’re making $30,000 a year on average. But I seriously doubt very many people got into this line of work just for the money. What annoys me more than anything is when nonprofit agencies have to jump through hoops to collect on everything they bill for while they struggle to keep things running. It doesn’t help that some elected officials think very little of social and human services and the people that rely on them just so they can survive in this world. In their minds, social and human services is a square peg that will never fit their round hole. They will go out of their way to make it more difficult for this line of work to be successful and for people in the field to do their jobs.
Social and human services is at its best when everyone involved can function as a cohesive unit towards common goals. I want the people who need them to get the help they need. I want the people who work in the field to succeed. Our future very much depends on the success of social and human services.
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