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MSW Statement of Purpose Sample, Bilingual Latina

A Latina of humble origins, I have lofty and noble professional dreams of helping as many vulnerable people as I can to be safe and happy. The MSW Program at UXX’s XXXX School of Social Work is my first choice for a variety of reasons, mostly the fact that your program is such an established pioneer and remains the leader in Social Work education online. I love the sophistication of your program and see it as the optimal springboard for me to achieve the most thoroughgoing education in social work possible, so as to be able to maximize my contribution to my field over many years to come.

Earning my MSW at UXX will introduce me and help me to fully understand a broad variety of strategies and tactics to better my surrounding community. Most critically, I will learn not just the mechanics of the status quo, but also immerse myself in the cutting-edge material concerning how to best go about improving the system in creative ways that are more effective at helping people in a holistic and sustainable fashion. I feel strongly that Social Work at UXXis highly exemplary in this regard, humanitarian, concerned with social justice issues as an integral part of the Social Work curriculum.

As a graduate student, I will aim to master the gambit of strategies that are most effective at promoting progressive social change. Being a caring person is intrinsic to social work, along with the drive and high motivation to challenge clients to realize their full potential. Social workers must honor the individuality of each client and empower them to move forward and achieve improvement. The fullest respect of client dignity helps to foster a sense of worth leading towards self-realization and -determination, and helps to produce participatory citizens rather than burdens to the system. The fight against social injustice is intrinsic to social work as I see it, in addition to advocacy, always with an eye on achieving the best outcomes for one’s clients. I personally feel strongly that serving as a voice for the oppressed should come naturally for social workers as they fight for justice and progressive change in their communities. While working with individual clients in the micro setting is my primary and immediate goal, I think it is complimentary to never lose sight of the broader picture and the way in which our own efforts are part of a larger movement towards greater levels of equality and dignity in our society.

Through my volunteer work, I have sought a healthy balance with my clients, treating them with the fullest measure of respect and giving my all, at the same time that I struggle to stop thinking about them at the end of the day and return to my home and family.  Having worked extensively with survivors of domestic violence, I am always especially concerned and engaged when my many clients have valid reasons to fear for their safety; thus, I have learned a great deal about legal procedures as s social worker, restraining orders, child services, etc. We worked very hard in our agency and were frequently successful in helping our clients to end abusive relationships and to establish their own homes free of violence, for themselves and their children, in other cases, simply making sure that the abuser has been removed from the premises and kept away by legal means.

I want the children of troubled and vulnerable families to see me as a kind and supportive friend, a representative of the community whose job it is to advocate and even militate if necessary on their behalf, so as to empower them to make use of available resources and to demand the recognition of their fullest human rights, especially as children. During my internship at the House of Ruth, I shadowed many caseworkers as they interacted with their clients – mostly women and their children. We learned through our training that we have to start where the client is and be considerate of their situation and its unique circumstances. One of the behaviors I observed is that these caseworkers are genuinely concerned and want to see the client make progress. I have learned and reflected extensively on the importance of not seeing our clients as helpless, simply ‘battered’ women; rather, we need to help our clients to discover their own power within so as to be able to mold their own destiny as independent women and mothers.

I have a very welcoming demeanor that allows people to open up to me and speak easily about their feelings. Whether it is family, friends, associates, or clients, I gain peoples trust because I am a good listener, without judgement. I help the client judge for themselves, steering them in the right direction and doing what I can to safeguard their interests, while I also fully realize that at the end of the day it must be the client who takes the initiative in the betterment of their own lives, at least in the case of adults. I feel especially honored as a social worker to have the opportunity to help members of disadvantaged communities and minority ethnic populations, recent immigrants, the vulnerable members of our society, many who speak Spanish and are in need of the kind of bilingual assistance that a bilingual Latina social worker can provide.

I labor to make the client feel comfortable enough to disclose and discuss their hardships so that they do not feel so isolated as a result of having been abused; but, rather, feel like they are an essential part of a society where abuse is not tolerated and where alternatives to living in abusive situations do exist as a result of community solidarity. As a graduate student in your MSW Program, I will never lose sight of the need to improve our communities by reinforcing and streamlining our support systems in ways that serve to protect and uplift the vulnerable and marginalized generally speaking, in addition to one client at a time. By earning the MSW Degree, I will complete a thoroughgoing immersion experience in the helping professions, ethics, strategies, methodology, research, and practice. With respect to my area of specialization, I hope to build a central focus on the child welfare and protection system because it is in this area where I feel I will be able to make my greatest contribution.

I firmly believe that social workers should be model parents if they have children and always as citizens that engage and uplift their community. We need better role models for our children, and subsequent generations, generally speaking, and the social worker should be exemplary and take a leadership role in providing children at risk with good role models to steer them along the path towards fulfillment, security, and happiness. I appreciate the importance of working with parents and their children individually, finding a sense of balance between parental control and community responsibility that provides an adequate foundation for child development and subsequent self-determination.

The community I have worked with is mostly women and some men – and their children -in recovery from abusive domestic relationships. They are looking for ways to better their lives and the lives of their children in particular. Seeing the drive and determination many of these women have to improve their family’s situation is immense. Most simply have to face the challenge of the love of their own children trumping the love or connection they once had with their abuser, and many do so quite bravely and successfully.

The importance of providing vulnerable and abused children with good role models is an issue that I am especially passionate about. Not all of the parents that I have gotten to know at the House of Ruth are highly motivated to improve their current lifestyle and become the kind of people that their children could really look up to. Without adequate role models, our society suffers as a whole. I have taken note of how many children there are in our communities who are in desperate need of the help that a social worker can provide, especially a good role model, someone who is kind, concerned, responsible, and a good listener.

The skills I will learn through the MSW program will provide me with the additional knowledge and experience that I need to support and educate parents in troubled situations as to what is in the best interests of their children, for the long as well as short term. I have been reading about child welfare and wellbeing issues for several years in my free time and have worked at county jobs, such as DCFS. I seek to build a distinguished career as an MSW professional in support of needy mothers and their children fleeing abusive situations. My five-year plan is to get more experience not only the field of domestic violence, but to become competent in all areas of social work that are closely related to child welfare, such as adoption, addictions, etc. My ten-year plan is to become the finest social worker possible, giving my all to a maximum caseload in a leadership position, increasingly doing outreach on behalf of needy children, especially those in the Spanish-speaking community.

I thank you for consideration of my application to Social Work at UXX.

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Help with your Statement in Social Work, BSW, MSW, DSW.

One day, while a Master’s Student in Religious Studies at Indiana University, I was looking for a work study job and examining the postings for these positions on the bulletin board at IU. Quickly, I realized that the position which most interested me was that of a counselor/staff person at the Bloomington MiddleWay House Shelter for Abused Women. Since I am a man, however, I thought that there was little chance that they would hire me. To my surprise, they did; in fact, I was the first male staff person to be hired by this institution. The director told me later that her primary reason for hiring me was to have a role model for the numerous little boys who stayed there with their mothers.

Soon, I found myself counseling women who had and continued to suffer severely from spousal abuse. I dispensed medications; I even answered the rape crises hotline (telling the woman that I could beep my supervisor if she would be more comfortable talking to a woman—some asked me to do so, others said that they would just talk to me). In addition to my graduate studies, this was the most formative experience of my life. I learned a lot about family dynamics, abuse, recovery, emotional and psychological redemption, etc. In fact, I went on to write my own doctoral dissertation on the history of the politics of violence against women in Latin America, which I have made my permanent home. 

Thus, about 15 years ago, when I began drafting statements of purpose for applicants to graduate school, I developed a special interest that remains to this day in the area of Social Work. I find profound fulfillment in helping applicants to BSW, MSW, and PHD programs because I am fascinated by, drawn to their stories. Only in Social Work is the applicant encouraged to write up to 5 double-spaced pages (in other fields it is almost always 3 or even 2 pages). I have often pondered why this is the case. The only answer that I have been able to come up with is that the Social Worker has a longer story: her past, her life story is more relevant to her application than in other fields. In other areas where space is more limited on the personal statement, I generally encourage applicants to talk more about their future and less about their past. In Social Work, however, the past explains the future in unique ways.

The most important thing that I have learned about applicants to social work programs is that they have all suffered themselves. They are all victims who have lived through some type of trial and tribulation, oppression, violence, abandonment, discrimination, etc. This is why they have chosen to be social workers. And it is their own historical suffering that drives them to succeed in helping others: their passion for helping victims is grounded in their own survival and redemption, escape from abuse in their own past, rejuvenation and determination to succeed in life despite the odds. Thus, the first paragraph of your statement should include this story. It should lay out the groundwork for what is to follow. Basically, it should lay out your long term plan to contribute to social work and humanity in a certain area and then indicate how this passion that you have is rooted in your own experience.

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I want to help you get accepted to graduate school in Social Work.

It is very important that you carefully review the style and presentation of your application material for graduate school before submitting it, especially your Personal Statement of Purpose. Seeking the assistance of a professional writer is often a very good idea, especially if English is your second or third language. I would be happy to draft the first paragraph free of charge so that I have the opportunity to demonstrate to you how I can help in this regard. You will only need to pay for my services if you are very impressed with the first paragraph and decide to commission me to draft the entire statement.

I would be happy to provide you with a highly eloquent Statement that portrays you as someone with enormous potential to contribute to the advance of the social work field over the long term. After you fill out my Online Interview Form, I will ask you some specific questions by email if I need any further information. Please also send your resume/CV and or rough draft if you have one.

Thank you very much.  I thought the draft was beautiful and concise and helps capture what I wanted to convey.  I did make some brief modifications and change some words.  Once again, thank you so much because I know this will increase my chance of getting the position.  I will keep you guys updated.  I truly appreciate your service. 

I help as many people as I can in the area of Social Work, usually the MSW Degree, because I find special joy working in this field. There is a lot of sadness in Social Work and occasionally it brings me to tears while drafting the statement; I have to stop and dry my eyes. Nevertheless, the sadness is in the past and the triumph is to overcome and process that sadness, as social workers and counselors do, and then turn their attention to helping others that suffer. Social workers tend to be noble people, not by birth or by station, but by the fact that they have been victims, have suffered, and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, building new lives, overcoming their past histories of abuse or neglect, and are now helping others to do so as well.

Thank you so much!  I only had to make very minor changes, and felt that the statement was still very much me.  I knew what I wanted to say, and felt it came through in the final product.  After I sent the rough draft (rough may be an understatement) I thought of all of information I left out, but when read the amended draft, it was like you read my mind! Thank you so much for helping me to get one step closer to reaching my goals.

I have read statement and feel very excited about it.   Thank you for your time in processing this so quickly.

How we can work to provide better humanitarian aid.

The Humanitarian Side of Social Work

Ready to snag a job in international social work? As a social worker and Director of NGOabroad, Ann McLaughlin helps people get into international both paid and voluntary humanitarian work. The comments she made in a recent article in The New Social Worker pertain to humanitarian, not corporate, work in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Eastern Europe.

Lots of people are interested in getting paid work in this area. Let' start by defining the challenge and then address the steps to deal with that challenge.

The Challenge

There is a lot of competition for paid international humanitarian jobs. In fact, there is a huge bottleneck getting into paid international humanitarian work. The majority of the grassroots humanitarian organizations in Asia, Africa, and South America are run on the commitment of their members.

They do not have money to host volunteers or pay expatriates in many cases. In countries with 20-40% unemployment, the grassroots jobs rightfully belong to the people from those countries.

The niche for expatriates is with the international NGOs! Highly qualified candidates from all over the world apply for the jobs working with international NGOs. If you thought the competition was fierce when you applied for a job in your town, wait till you try competing on a global level. There are far more people applying for only a few positions.

However, don’t let that stop you!! Just know that it takes a lot to get your foot in the door.

So what does it take to get paid international social work? You´ll need:

  • years of domestic social work experience
  • international experience
  • knowledge of the culture that you will work in
  • attitude: humility, resourcefulness (can hit the deck flying)
  • determination, tenacity for the search itself
  • language is very helpful but often in-country colleagues translate

Okay, so international experience is a must. If you look at most international job announcements, they specify how much international work experience is required for that position. They may say things like “five years’ experience in the Great Lakes necessary” (and they´ll probably be referring to the Great Lakes of Lake Kivu, Tanganyika, Victoria, and Nyasa, not Lake Michigan!) The Great Lakes is the tumultuous region that encompasses Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo. There are milder places to begin to get your first international experience, but those are some good examples of destinations you might consider.

Volunteering is a great way to get international experience, of course. International volunteering that gives you relevant experience is a great way to build your foundation for international work.

You usually need to have worked in 2-3 posts as a volunteers to build a good foundation of experience. International experience it is essential, and it´s complex. You can’t just transplant your skills into another culture—you have to learn about that culture.

Employers are looking for people who “know the ropes” and understand how international work is different from work they would do locally. Because most international humanitarian work is funded by projects, you must be able to “hit the ground running” and be ready to work hard.

Cultural experience helps immensely: people who have cultural roots in the country where they wish to work are at a distinct advantage: they likely know the language, beliefs, and interaction patterns, so they know how to connect and get things done in that culture.

Class experience is also valuable. If you are going to work in a poor country, then studying poverty, hardship, and despair helps you “get” it. The biggest step that most North Americans and Europeans can make is learning about the class divide. One eighth of the world population consumes seven eighths of the world resources, leaving only one eighth of the resources for the rest. We live in a world of Have-Lots and Have-Nots.

It´s important to have lots of experience and something valuable to contribute. You can certainly get started with that in your own country, too. It´s much more of a challenge to learn professional skills in another country where you have to cope with cultural differences and snafus.

By bringing plenty of skills and savvy, you don’t end up being a drain on the organization, you contribute to it. Many international positions do not require you to carry out a task, they require you to teach others how to do that task. In the terms used in international work, you partner as equals in order to build capacity.

Many people think that international social work means that you do the same tasks that you might do in your home country, transplanting them into the region you´re working in. This is not true. The truth is that people are very capable all over the world. They can do things for themselves, and they may interpret your intentions as condescending.

Your job will often be to mentor. This is where it helps to have experience, especially supervisory experience. You will have to know your subject so well that you can see where the snags are for them, or how to apply a new innovation or approach into a very different cultural or religious context. This is where it gets tricky. You need resourcefulness and the ability to improvise.

To partner as equals, you need a tremendous amount of humility. To be honest, Americans often flunk this test. They have a reputation for being arrogant out there in the rest of the world.

Many Americans come in thinking that they are hot stuff. But capacity building is recognizing and building the skills of your team rather than show-boating what you can do. Canadians often come in much more gently and accomplish far more for this reason.

Study the cultures and countries that interest you, ascertain their needs and try to work out where you might fit in and be able to help. This will help not only when you are there, but when you approach people about paid or voluntary work.

Richard Bolles’ job strategy in What Color Is Your Parachute? Was to determine the unmet needs in an organization. If you can meet the unmet needs, you are so much more likely to be hired. Intuit what vexes, baffles, bewilders, and plagues them.

Consider the culture at large. For example, in countries that have no budget for health and education, there are few social services to meet human needs. Therefore, there are few jobs but lots of needs to fulfill. There may be lots of room to start programs in these countries.

Another strategy is to find burgeoning grassroots organizations. Social work has a role to play at all levels of a nation's social service infrastructure. Paid jobs in well-established organizations are available to those with the necessary qualifications, but those may not be the real plums. The most exciting jobs are often those on the cutting edge: assisting with the growth of the grassroots citizens organizations (often in a volunteer role, initally).

In poor countries, there is very usually little money for social services, but social services may be growing nonetheless. In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion of organizations started by citizens. The growth of infrastructure is from the ground up, not the top down, so you may like to take advantage of that.

So, what specific skills will you need? In the new grassroots organizations, community organization skills are incredibly valuable for organizational and program development.

Grant writing and fundraising skills are in demand. In paid positions, managerial skills are often required. You may wear the hats of both director and service provider, for example.

It may surprise you, but the clinical skills that you have acquired in North America may or may not be applicable! Psychotherapy is a very foreign notion in most of the world and counseling is often a luxury.

Your people skills, broadly speaking, will be treasured everywhere. Social work is one of the most important professions in international work because of the emphasis on poverty.

Getting Your Foot in the Door

First, identify prospective organizations and contact people. This is where much of the preparatory work happens. You could spend years researching possibilities, but getting in touch is the key.

Next, write a culturally-sensitive, compelling cover letter and résumé. In the industrial world, you impress people with your qualifications. But when writing to South America, Africa, Asia or Central Asia it is offensive to receive a letter with the sort of boasting tone that prevails in North America. You are going to help. Be humble.

During this process, outline how your skills will help meet their needs. For voluntary work, explain that you can help them set up their domestic violence program or a livelihoods program in a refugee camp. Suggest how you can help teach how a media campaign changes attitudes toward “gender based violence” or how you will work with the slum dwellers on advocacy programs.

Steer clear of the crowd—target organizations that no one else has heard of.

And then hang tough, keep at it, g into an international job search knowing it is a marathon. Take breaks along the way, pace yourself, persist. In the course of searching, you´ll learn a lot about how international work is “wired”, and that will help you eventually succeed.

Working in this field is likely to be one of the highlights of your life. The field is quickly changing as NGOs fill a niche that many governments have neglected. The world needs people contributing their skills to address humanity' problems, the needs are clearly there. And it is just a matter of finding your niche, which involves research! Good luck. And if you need any help with your admissions or work-related documents, let us know!