Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reflections on the "home stretch"

So I’m taking time to evaluate where my life is at the beginning of my last semester of graduate school. I’ve learned so much about myself, what I like to do, what I’m driven to do, and what I’m good at.

When I first started in CSP (Community Social Psychology), I thought that my focus was going to be on women and families. I even signed up for the graduate certificate in family studies. I thought that my career would lead to social work and family case management, much like my aunt had done, but somehow in the 2.5 years that I have been attending my graduate program I learned something more about myself. By accident, or perhaps not so much, my graduate work has reflected not an interest in family studies, like I originally planned, but in Organizational Change and Development.

Granted, I love to work with women and children. I love families, and giving disenfranchised people a chance to better their lives through education and support. It’s my passion and my first love, especially when it relates to women and children who are victims of abuse.


I realize that I also love the administrative/organizational aspect of community building. I enjoy helping organizations better themselves to better serve their clients. These improvements might be through program evaluation, intervention building, grant-writing, facilitating organizational change, and clear communication among departments and between management and employees. By ensuring that an organization is evolving and improving itself regularly, it is like servicing a well-oiled machine whose output is positive community service and change.

I never realized this about myself until I took stock of my last few semesters. I have taken courses in organizational change, grant-writing, program evaluation and community dynamics. I managed to find work in an organization that also does work with organizations from an outside perspective, and I find myself loving my job in a different way than when I worked with battered women. At the same time I have an internship in which I evaluate an existing program, and I create an intervention program based on the needs of the clients. While it is all about working with children who are victims of abuse, the more exciting part for me, seemingly, is not the kids,  but in the planning, execution, and evaluation of everything I’ve built, and ensuring potential sustainability through copious note-taking.  

So, now, nearly 4 months before I am to (hopefully) graduate with my master’s degree I find myself re-evaluating my goals in life, and what I want to do when I am done with academia. I considered a PhD program, but it seems like that would pander to my ego (calling myself “doctor”) more than something I actually want to do, or see myself doing. I want to work with communities. I want to help the organizations that serve the underprivileged, and make changes that will have a worldwide ripple effect. How I will accomplish that remains to be seen...