Starting in January all of the students enrolled in the full time MSW program that I am in are expected to start a practicum. The field practicum is designed to help you get real life experience and apply the theories and techniques you have been learning in the classroom setting. I think many master's programs do this. I know for sure that it is an integral part of MSW programs. So far I have been offered one interview with an agency, but the field team tries to get you two to three interviews. That way, you can decide where you'd like to do your placement.
My placement process has been a bit interesting. Admittedly, there were times when I was pretty angry and annoyed. It seemed as though some members of the field placement team were obsessed with the fact that I was blind and just couldn't get past it. I had discussion after discussion about how I wasn't required to disclose my disability and that if I did decide to do so it would be me who did it and only after an interview was set up. I'm still in discussions with faculty members to address this issue. But, at least I have an interview.
However, I was initially annoyed about that too.
When I saw the subject line announcing that I had an agency interested in interviewing me I was pretty excited, but when I clicked on the email and saw the title of the agency I got irritated. It was an agency focusing on disability.
After all of our conversations they had picked an agency for me that dealt with disability? There are so many other places where disability isn't even a part of anything. I have this core belief that disability advocacy is most effective with full immersion into able-bodied organisations, communities Etc. And here I was having to interview at a placement whose primary focus was disability.
After simmering for a few minutes I googled the agency and started investigating their website. As I scrolled through page after page I began to calm down.
Sure they were a disability focused agency, but they focused on a wide range of disabilities, including physical and intellectual. I even saw a section where they talked about assisting war vets who had been disabled in combat. That part in particular started to make me look at this agency, and the opportunity, in a different way.
This was a learning experience. It's not where I have to stay for the rest of my career and maybe starting in an agency who is already disability aware will make this process easier for me. I don't always have to do things the hard way. Mr. K has been teaching me that. Besides, I may go to this interview this afternoon and they will decide they don't want me. Maybe I'll go and decide that I don't want them. The first step is to go to the interview with an open mind and decide from there.
I don't feel super nervous yet or anything. Me being the worrier that I am though had started concocting problems even before going out the front door. My potential field instructor had called yesterday afternoon and left me a message saying that the agency was a fragrance free environment. I'm used to that from being a massage therapist, but then I started making up the scenario that since the place was a fragrance free workplace then someone there had allergies. That lead to the thought that if they have allergies that they will be allergic to dogs and that either I won't be able to work there or that I'll have a battle on my hands. It's this type of catastrophizing that gets me into trouble.
I cannot possibly anticipate every little issue and I really need to stop. The dog might come up, she might not. And, if it does, then we'll have a discussion. I really don't need to be worrying about that when there are more important issues. Not to mention, if I'm always worrying about what might happen I'm not focusing on the present...the here and now and experiencing life right now.
So, I've made a conscious decision to go into this interview with an open mind, as I mentioned above, and to stop myself if I start having catastrophizing thoughts. It's a little early for new year's resolutions, but I think I have the beginning formulation of mine for 2015. :)