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Lessons Learned

CATEGORIES: Supervisee's Perspective

Nov, 15 2012


Just three months after graduating college, I began UT’s School of Social Work where I quickly learned to balance almost twenty hours weekly of internship with fifteen hours of class and countless hours of paper writing, reading, and group presentations. I was lucky to find supportive friends and professors and an extremely welcoming elementary school campus where I interned. I may not have always appreciated supervision during my first year in the MSSW program, especially when I became so overwhelmed that I cried after meetings with my supervisor. However, in retrospect, I am hoping that my future supervisors will have a similar intensity, dedication, and caring nature. Looking back on supervision and looking towards the future, my LCSW supervisor and the elementary school’s counselor who worked with me taught me countless lessons. I have narrowed these lessons down to a “top 10 list.”
1.      Have confidence—professional confidence. If you don’t believe that you can help your clients, how will they believe it? If you don’t believe you have something to offer, why would your coworkers?
2.      Reach out— to janitors/teachers/parents in the hall…
3.      Ask for help—it’s okay to not have an answer or to not know what to do. That’s what your supervisor/coworker/peers are for. You owe it to yourself and your clients to get the help that you need.
4.      Get to know the community—My supervisor and I often went on “field trips” to places such as Any Baby Can during supervision. Driving around East Austin, I got a feel for where my clients lived and what resources were available to them. 
5.      Rejection can be a good thing—When a student refused to meet with me one week I was devastated. After group supervision, I realized that this client was exhibiting strengths of bravery and confidence, evidenced by his ability to voice such a choice at a young age. At this point, a significant shift took place in our sessions. He was able to have more control over what we did and he began to open up more.
6.      Push your limits—A macro outreach project involving meetings with other schools’ principals and staffs, phone calls to parents, confronting the bullies…these were just some of my anxiety-provoking challenges last year. By pushing my limits, I learned how capable I actually was. 
7.      Introduce yourself—My supervisor gave all of her AISD interns business cards and would harp on us about introducing ourselves and handing them out at meetings and conferences. While I was hesitant to do so at first, I realized the importance of making connections. I never would have introduced myself to Sedrick Jackson, the founder of LCSWSupervisors.com at a NASW conference had she not instilled the importance of networking. 
8.      Set limits—During my second semester, I added on a second part of my internship: going to AISD’s Project HELP once a week and helping with intakes. With an outreach project in the works and wrapping up two first grade groups, I became overwhelmed when several teachers approached me about adding more individual students to my weekly caseload. While I did add a couple students second semester, I also said “no” to a few and referred them to the school counselor. This helped me stay sane while juggling so many things.