Saturday, October 25, 2014

So Many Choices

I say that in a positive manner. To be honest, my life has had a lot of opportunities for me to make choices. Sometimes I made good choices, other times not so much, but the point is I've been lucky enough to be able to make choices. Some people aren't so lucky.
However, sometimes, especially right now with so much going on in school, I don't want a choice. I just want things to be the way I set them up to begin with so I can carry on writing papers, completing assignments and studying for exams.
But, it's not meant to be.
In the MSW program I am taking all students must complete three semesters of field practicum. The first semester of the program we spend working with a virtual client which has been interesting, but starting in January we actually go to a placement. I've been looking forward to this since I was accepted into the program. Sure, I do okay with the academic side of things-actually, I've been shocking myself with my results thus far *knock on wood*-but I'm a hands on kind of person. I want to get in there and "get 'er done." I am glad, though, that we've had the opportunity to learn first because if I had been thrown into a placement without any education under my belt, I'd be floundering.
My dilemma is this:
When you start the program you are required to select a concentration. This means that starting in the second semester, the same time you go into placement, your courses begin to be more focused. You take courses pertaining to a particular topic instead of more general topics. At the University of Southern California (USC) there are five concentrations to choose from, with subconcentrations being available under those. It's pretty crazy. When I first enrolled I chose my concentration to be Health because I thought it would be interesting. People in this concentration work in hospitals, specialized clinics and such. As the program progressed, I realized that perhaps Mental Health was really where I wanted to be. It's not quite as broad as Health, but you can focus on substance abuse, mental illness as well as mental wellness. I switched my concentration not only because I thought Mental Health would be more of what I wanted to do, but also because it seemed to fit better into the field practicum placement that I wanted.
We are allowed to make suggestions to the field placement teams and I sent them my first choice. To me, Mental Health fit right in, and one field placement team member agreed with me. But, there's a slight problem.
I got the news yesterday that my first pick for placement would be interested in hosting me. I was very excited, but the issue is that the field placement team thinks that I need to switch my concentration again. They think that the placement would be better suited to a COPA (Community Organizing and Planning blah blah blah) concentration. I have no idea what all of the letters stand for. That should give you an idea of how interested I am in that concentration...not at all, just in case you missed that. In fact, parts of it scare me. :)
This concentration focuses on things more from a macro level-policy making, financial planning, grant writing Etc. As I've learned from being in school for two months, all aspects of social work will have bits where you have to write grants and/or financial plan and/or be a part of policy making. But, what I'm worried about is that if I go into the COPA concentration, I won't be able to work directly with the populations I want to serve. I don't want to sit behind a desk all day writing/planning/policy making.
There are parts of the COPA concentration that I like. There is an emphasis placed on advocacy, fundraising (which I usually like to do in a creative manner), and community organizing. You can go on to start up your own organization to help people and that interests me. I've always wanted to do something like that and if I learn how to grant write, I'd be in a better position to do that. So, I'm kind of stuck.
I really want to work in this placement, but the financial planning/grant writing scares me. I'm also worried I won't get to meet the people I'm working with. I guess I could take it upon myself to make sure I do.
I like the idea of advocacy, organizing fundraising and maybe one day opening my own organization.
Mental Health is more hands on. But, if I learn about policy making maybe I could work in a place where I help people by working on policies that will help them. That's a lot of helping. :P
I don't know.
Anyway,  I emailed the head of the COPA concentration program to find out more and I've also asked my field placement to enquire about what I would consider to be mental health aspects of the placement I want to be at.
I thought about taking the interview and seeing what they would want me to do. Maybe then I'd be better equipped to make a decision.
In some ways I'm over thinking this, but it's because I tend to be a planner. (Hmmmmm, maybe that aims me at COPA)? As my student advisor said and others said, an MSW degree is an MSW degree. Even if my concentration is Mental Health or COPA, I could really work in either field. I could always take the COPA concentration and fill my electives with Mental Health courses.
This all probably sounds like jibberish, if you've managed to read this post to the end. But, I had to write it out. It helps me think through the process a bit.
That said, I still have no idea what I'm going to do. LOL

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