Stepping into the world of Social Work

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Immersion is done… time for a nap

Well,  community immersion and orientation are done, and it has been a long week.

Thursday, we met in the afternoon at our assigned community – Venice, California.  Some classmates and I carpooled together again, which ended up being a great idea. We visited St. Joseph’s center first, which is a large program providing services to low income and homeless individuals and families. I was very impressed with the program and what they had been able to accomplish.

We also visited a community clinic, where a social worker, physician, and a police officer discussed the challenges they face.

After that, we were divided into pairs to go out into the area and interview folks about how they felt about Venice as a community/neighborhood. Both my partner and I felt shy at first, but managed to get our assigned interviews done.

Saturday, we met at the Venice library, where we received a very nice presentation from the branch manager and then walked over to the famous Venice canals. After that, we split up to complete our interviews (each of us had to do 3, with the intention that at least one be a homeless individual). We had no problem completing the assignment on the Venice Boardwalk with all of the fascinating, colorful people that were there. It became much easier to do once as we kept at it.

We were to meet back for lunch and a final classroom session regarding our experiences as well as a bit of a writing workshop for the rest of the afternoon.

My overall impression is positive, but my carpool partners and I tended to agree that some consideration could have been given to limiting the times we had to come back to campus. As satellite campus students, we do not have parking passes, and so had to pay full parking fees. We believed that perhaps we could have arranged the class portions at our satellite location or even the Venice library. I think we all agreed that we’d have accepted the trade off of providing our own lunch for the convenience of less driving and parking fees.

It was a tiring but exciting day.


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You know you’re a job coach if:

Here is something I wrote some time back as a joke among co-workers.

You know you’re a job coach if:

1. You’ve attended the new-employee orientation for a company multiple times but never received a paycheck from them

2. You refer to particular stores as “Mark’s Target” or “Anita’s Ralphs.”

3. If doing business at a store where you have clients, you make sure you’re not buying anything “sensitive” – feminine hygiene, underclothing, alcohol (or you go out of your way to visit a different store where you don’t have clients)

4. You have to resist the urge to “coach” your courtesy clerk when shopping for your own groceries (you’ve been a job coach too long if you DON’T resist)

5. You can state distances between various local retail centers/malls from memory

6. You know  lunch/coffee options on any given route off hand

7. You visit a restaurant and note how nicely the silverware is rolled

8. You know how to do paperwork in some interesting positions – leaning against walls, check stands, etc.

9. You see an advertisement on television and immediately think of how the promotion will affect your clients

10. You have a Bachelors Degree and years of experience but make less money than at least one of your clients

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Immersion/Orientation – an official Trojan at last!

Yesterday I felt like I finally became an official Trojan!

I was fortunate enough to carpool with 3 other students from my area, so I didn’t have to pay for all the gas and parking. It was also quite pleasant to have their company on the route and get to know them better.

After a very crowded gathering of all the incoming students (including those from the virtual academic center) we were divided up into smaller groups to attend various seminars on specific aspects of our next 2-4 years.

In my case, my first session was Part Time Advisement. This reviewed information I had already learned about how things would go for me the next 3 years, and some advice about balancing family, work, and school.

After that, I skipped the “getting connected” seminar with IT in order to get my picture taken for my official USC ID. At first, I waited in an extremely long line in the hot sun which didn’t seem to be moving at all. Rumors started that there was a shorter line to perform the same task at the Lyon center on the other side of campus. I took the chance to walk over there and it paid off – not only was the line shorter but I received my ID immediately. I think getting the ID was the point where I felt it was really “official.”

After that, I attended a session on medical insurance and the student health center, where I learned I could/should make a change to my insurance. The typical student insurance requires the student to use the student health center first, which makes a lot of sense. However, as a student at a satellite campus, I can choose to waive that student health center fee and purchase the off campus insurance, which is more expensive but permits me to use doctors closer to my home. It pretty much zeroes out anyway, so that’s what I arranged.  I still have to make final arrangements for one more dose of MMR vaccine, since they require proof of this to avoid epidemics among students.

After that, we had a nice long catered lunch out on the lawn, and in the last half hour the student org did their best to make Trojans out of us. I was a little concerned that pictures of the event might get back to my Bruin-loving Hubby and friends!

The last part of the afternoon was what we were really there for – effectively our first class. Professor Lamb led us in an introduction to the concepts we will be using in our community immersion this week and gave us the details of where we will be going. On Thursday afternoon, we will be visiting a homeless shelter and a clinic in a community on the west side of Los Angeles. Saturday morning, we will be visiting the library and walking around some of the highlights of that community and interviewing people as pairs.

It sounds a little scary, but I’ll get through it. This experience, I am told, will be a critical part of some of my first assignments in my Policy class.

Still waiting for a couple of my books to arrive and for my loans to post to my account. From what I can tell, I signed one of my promissory notes a few days late, so I’m hoping it gets to me in the next two days!


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A quiet weekend before the storm….

I’ve got a quiet day today before USC takes control of my life in earnest on Tuesday.  Yesterday, we rescued Lucy from the roof a SECOND time yesterday, celebrated Hubby’s birthday with a dinner at a great Israeli restaurant we had never been to before, and got me a new phone (a Samsung Flight II). Gary is hiking with some friends today, so I’ve got the house to myself.

Last week, the Skirball cohort had our summer welcome reception, which was really nice. We got to see what would be our second home for the next year or two.  Someone posted pictures on Facebook (I didn’t even know anyone was doing that!) including my own ugly face, I just hope nobody tags me in them!

Three of my books have come in from the online sources I bought them from – I think I only made one mistake by getting the wrong edition, and that book cost less than a dollar plus shipping, so I think I can manage to buy another copy of the right one.  I’m still waiting for two of them to come.

I had registered for the USC all graduate student orientation on Monday, but I’ve learned that most of what I would get on Monday will be repeated on Tuesday. So I’m thinking I’ll save myself the trouble and parking fees and skip the Monday event.

After that is our mandatory Social Work orientation and the start of the “Immersion.”  Tuesday (all day)  and Saturday afternoon are at the UPC (University Park Campus – USC speak for the main campus as opposed to the medical school or other locations), Thursday and Saturday morning are out someplace we’ll be directed later. Fortunately, I’ve found a few other classmates in my area to share the ride to the main campus with, so we’ll be sharing gas and parking costs.  What I’ve gathered so far is that the immersion is a visit to a community served by social workers where we are to do some observation as the beginning of our Policy class.  I’m expecting something like a visit to a homeless or women’s shelter.  The policy class syllabus shows group presentations based on this in a couple of weeks, so it isn’t just for show.

Class starts a week from Monday. From what I can tell, I’ll get a couple of class days off in September, one for Labor Day and one for the Jewish holidays – our classes are at Skirball, a Jewish cultural center, so that makes a lot of sense. I’ve received the syllabus from one of my classes, it seems like it is all papers and presentations, no exams are listed!

My student loans were supposed to show up in my account yesterday, but they didn’t. I’m not sure what happened – I hope I don’t have to make any calls or visits to Financial Aid or the cashier’s office next week of all weeks!

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The last details – Student Loans

This week, I’ve been completing the last details of my enrollment at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. I got sticker shock at the $9000 price tag (and that’s only for 6 units!) but as Hubby tells me, it’ll be worth it when I can wave a diploma from such a prestigious school in an employer’s direction.

The most important was completing my student loan documents. I am getting three different types of loans, from two sources, so I had to sign two different “Master Promissory Notes.” I gather these will suffice for the whole three years. I’m not sure when the money will show up in my account, but I imagine it has been coordinated down to the last worrisome seconds. 🙂

I told myself that while I might have to do student loans this year, I’ll take the time to find some grants and scholarships to help next year.  Also, my third year  I am eligible to apply for a couple of stipend programs provided I agree to work in either child and family services or mental health for a year or two. Those have to be in the concentration year because you receive a specific field placement.

I also had to get vaccinated – colleges are trying hard to avoid epidemics of childhood diseases, so they’re requiring immunization against both kinds of measles and mumps. My doctor sent me for titers, but unfortunately I came up “not immune” to mumps. So I ended up having to get the shots anyway. I got one last week and I’ll have to get another at the end of August. Oh well…

It’s starting to seem more real to me…. a week from tomorrow there’s a welcome reception at the Skirball Center, where I’ll be taking classes the first two years, then on the 15 the graduate school orientation. Then Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I have “Community Immersion.” The next week classes start in earnest.

I’ve been looking at where to buy textbooks – some of them are even available in electronic format now, which would be really great for reading/studying in spare moments here and there. I have an Ipod Touch (basically an Iphone without the phone) which I typically use as a PDA and boredom companion (games, etc.) It will serve nicely for some of my textbooks if they are not too horribly large in file size. I might be able to finagle a Kindle or Nook for Christmas if the print starts to get too small for my eyes.  I am definitely happy to see I can buy them a little cheaper than the prices quoted in my previous post.  I guess I should look at shipping times and consider placing my order pretty quickly.

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