Devon Jones, MSW/MNO '22, is the new student organizer for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Ohio Chapter. He is leading a project to raise awareness about the issue of unpaid field practicums.
Social work students across the country entering the profession often expect low pay for valuable hard work. This trend has been a part of the experience of social workers for quite some time. A symptom of this problem can be seen in the phenomenon of unpaid field practicums for students pursuing an undergraduate and/or graduate degree in social work. This process requires the student to fulfill a certain amount of hours in order to obtain the degree; many students are tasked with attending school and working at an agency to gain on-sight experience. This experiential learning is key to making effective social workers, but is it fair that they should gain this experience without compensation?
To address this issue, the National Association of Social Workers has developed a project to raise awareness about the issue of unpaid field practicums. This project aims to advocate for a Great Investment into social work by seeking to develop and sustain paid field practicum opportunities for social work students. We imagine multi-prong solutions with schools, agencies, the government and other stakeholders finding ways to work toward most field practicums being compensated.
There are various ways to get involved if you currently attend or have recently graduated from a social work program:
- Make 1–2 minute video
- Fill out the survey aimed at gauging how current and future social workers feel about this issue
- Reach out to your field placement faculty member and field placement agency to begin a dialogue
"Unpaid paid practicums are a sad reality social work students have to face," Jones said. "This reality causes unnecessary barriers to entry into the profession of social work. The only way we are to make a difference on this matter is to talk to those most affected: students."
Faculty and staff members often praised Jones' work while he was a student at the Mandel School. An anonymous member of the community commented:
Devon is a superstar in class, volunteerism and work. He always brings a light into class with him making the learning environment safe and comfortable for other students. Devon volunteers his time connecting with the community and children in need, which is remarkable given his busy schedule. His involvement in his local paper has provided a voice to those who are often overlooked by the media and allowed a new nonprofit paper to flourish. He is never hesitant to bring his real-life knowledge into the classroom and to connect others with worthwhile causes in the community.
"The Mandel School offered me a transformative experience that changed my professional trajectory," Jones reflected. "Having the opportunity to study with accomplished faculty and classmates in many ways prepared me for the challenges ahead."
Student NASW Membership Registration Now Open
Did you know the Mandel School provides all current MSW students with free NASW student memberships?
Founded in 1955, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world, with more than 120,000 members. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.
To sign up, complete this form by Friday, April 15, if:
- You did not previously register for a student membership in Fall 2021
- You are a first-year student who needs to register for a new student membership in Spring 2022
- Your student membership is up for renewal this Spring 2022
- Your student membership will/has lapsed and you need to reactivate it
Another NASW student membership drive will also be offered in the fall.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.