Two Month Report

So I have officially been working for the State for 2 months now in this job and I think it is appropriate to reflect on what I have learned and look to the future a little bit.  I finally start the state-wide training on Monday – we’ll see how helpful that will be (many people have told me it won’t be).  And I currently have 4 cases that are mine and a bunch that I am helping out on.

  • First, time flies.  I can’t believe that 2 months have gone by already.  And all elements of time are fast it seems.  Often I catch myself thinking or saying, wow, is it already 3:00 or it is Thursday?  Does the stress and workload of this job really just make time fly?  I do think that my move and the time of year (summer) also play a role, but I do think that this job is the largest culprit.
  • Relatedly, I am so busy.  Already I have started working 10 hour days and have thought nothing of it.  It wasn’t until I got home, exhausted, that I look back on my day, having worked over 10 hours straight, that I think, wow, no wonder.  And I don’t even have a full caseload yet!  Uh oh!
  • I need to be pushier.  So back in social work school, good listening skills are taught repeated to you: sit with the silence, be an active listener, be patient with clients as they come to their point.  But, as related to my two previous points, I don’t have the luxury of doing this all of the time.  I like having an hour long conversation with someone because I think that not only do I get good information from them, but I also get a good sense of their style and they are able to build some trust with me.
  • I really need to be pushier.  Not only because of the time thing, but also because I need to be strict with people and figure out what is actually going on (to make sure that kids are safe).  Nosy is a good word for it too.  Asking questions not because they are clinically appropriate, but because they may be case appropriate, but seem to be a little cop-like.
  • I think I am dropping my ‘not hanging with co-workers’ policy.  I don’t know if many other people are going to fully understand what the heck I am doing without actually doing it themselves.  Sadly.
  • I am worried that I may burn out quicker than I thought.  Previously I thought that burn out was a possibility, but a relatively low possibility, and not for a few years.  Now I am thinking that it is more certain and could happen as soon as a year to 18 months.  Crap!  So I need to figure out how I can better take care of myself to prevent that from happening.  Yikes.
  • There is so much legal stuff to learn!  I am writing orders and making reports to court and somewhat attempting to explain the process to clients and chatting to lawyers (defense attorneys who are sometimes trying to bully me and state attorneys who are trying to make sure that I don’t screw up their cases).  But seriously, I am supposed to know not only all the social work/mental health/child welfare policy stuff, but now all the legal stuff too?  I should have just gone to law school to learn the legal stuff, get more respect, and more money too.  Sigh.
  • I am hungry all the time.  I don’t know what this is all about.  Stress eating.  Burning calories.  Something.  But I am working and I am hungry.  This has never happened before.  And I am not sure what I think about it.  I don’t want to be overworked and overweight.  And on a related note of this and the time thing, exercising is so hard to do during the week with not getting home to 8 pm and being exhausted.
  • And while all of my previous points are kinda negative, I am very happy that I took this job and have no regrets.  This is where I want to be right now and I think that eventually I will be able to do it well and sorta know what I am doing.

So questions for the future:

  • how long will it take for me to feel competent?
  • when and how will I screw up (it is going to happen)?
  • will my current clients turn on me?  (currently I think we have a good relationship)
  • when and how will I get ripped in court, by a judge or lawyer?
  • will I be able to maintain a personal life?
  • what systemic changes will I want to make?

4 Responses to Two Month Report

  1. cb says:

    I can’t pretend to have any answers but just wanted to pick up a couple of points! I’ve become SO much pushier since I started working in this profession. I think some people I was at school with can hardly believe it. I like to call it ‘being more assertive’ – that makes it sound better!

    And I’ve found that as you mention, sometimes the people that best understand what you do at work are the people you work with or who work in similar areas.. and it’s nice to have a chat out of work with people who know what the work can be like..

    Good luck with it!

  2. I was a CPS worker in Texas for almost 7 years. My advice to you is to stay true to yourself and definately hang with your co-workers. It is important to be able to debrief and unwind with those who are in the same boat as you. Good luck! angie

  3. Jessica says:

    I am impressed and amazed with what you do every day. I can’t answer most of those questions, but I want to assure you that I will do my very best to ensure you maintain a [fantastic] personal life! 😉

  4. Maia says:

    Just found your blog and I LOVE IT! I too recently got my MSW but am working for an agency that contracts with the state (I run a residential assessment program for foster kids). I can empathize with a lot of what you write about and it’s great to hear the perspective of someone in the field but doing a different job. I don’t have any answers yet though … I too am worried about burn out and working too many hours. Thanks for writing!

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