MSW Student Experience at Professional Development Day

Professional Development Day, for some, is a welcome reprieve from field. It's purpose, though, is to fill in gaps for student learning. As a two-year student, the famous quote from Socrates, "Wisdom is knowing how little we know," really speaks to me. From human behavior theories on family systems to brief therapy in comparison to long-term therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychodynamic therapy, I feel I've barely touched the surface in terms of knowing enough interventions to use with clients.

Professional Development Day, held this year on February 11, provides the chance for students to come together to pick and decide what workshop opportunities are interesting and useful to them. Workshop-style sessions were held in the morning with career and licensing information presented in the afternoon. This year the Graduate Student Association planned the morning sessions and the MSW Program, Office of Field Learning and Community Partnerships, and Office of Student and Alumni Affairs organized the afternoon programs.

I decided, last minute, to attend the workshop on "Small Truths: The Immigration Experience Through the Eyes of Children." The speaker, Sarah Yuster -- a painter, filmmaker, and accidental art therapist -- was funny, passionate, and showed students the power of art and its therapeutic effects. I was particularly moved hearing the story of a boy who had helped his father rake and clean someone's back yard, and how helping his father constituted the best day of the nine-year-old boy's life. Yuster took a different spin on immigration and brought into students' view the children the immigration debate affects and the type of life they deserve. The workshop raised questions for me such as, "Why is it difficult for us to help these children?"

The overdose prevention workshop, featuring Reilly Glascow of the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, sounded exciting to me. I like to think I have the capacity to save someone one day, say on a subway train. It would be nice to have no one overdose on opiates, but alas, to have the tools to prevent someone from dying? At the workshop, we were instructed how to use the prescription drug Naloxone; when utilized, it can prevent someone from dying from an opiate overdose. There are two ways to administer the drug: through injection (a needle, ahem), and through the nasal passages. I opted for the latter, as I can't imagine administering an injection with my loathing of needles. All students who attended the workshop received a card stating they had been trained, and a free overdose prevention kit. I've been keeping the bag with me; it makes me feel like a social work superhero without the cape or glamour.

The last two workshops, on licensing requirements state to state, and professional development opportunities through the Silver School and the Wasserman Career Center started to kick my gears into "future" mode. I don't mean having senioritis or thinking about graduating in May (because my mind does go there), but in terms of what I want for my future. Do I know which organizations I'm going to apply for jobs? I felt more prepared knowing that the Silver School is there to walk students through the process. I've just had my resume reviewed by the Wasserman Career Center, and posted my strengths and career goals on the NYU Silver Career and Professional Development tab on NYU classes. We often think of finishing graduate school and thinking, "That's it! I'm done." But there is so much more potential for our paths. It can be both daunting and exciting. I recently signed up for the NYU Mentor Network. I see it as going on a date with an organization, and it feels reassuring to know I can get a sense of what a job title is like before I apply.

Students considering applying to the NYU Silver School of Social Work should know that the School cares about its students and gives them the tools to be the best social work they can be. Professional Development Day is just one small example how the School does this.