Graduation season is full of celebratory events, a time for social work degree graduates to reflect on their academic achievements and take pride in their professional accomplishments as they look forward to the career to come. Amidst all of the closing ceremonies and commencement activities, social work degree graduates are also responsible for preparing for licensing exams, job-searching, and ensuring diploma issuance.
It is no wonder, then, that many post-graduation to-do items might go overlooked, fall through the cracks, or simply not occur to the social work graduate embarking upon a new career.
But once the excitement and stress of completing one’s social work studies have calmed, recent grads will find these simple tips invaluable in setting them up for the best possible outcomes in the years ahead.
Managing your School Email Account for Social Work Degree Grads
Upon enrollment, most schools issue all students a university email account for use within the university system. During your time in graduate school, this email account was likely used for communication with professors and other students and may contain some important emails worth saving.
Social Work degree graduates should remember that they will not always have access to this account – some schools grant continued access for a few years, but there is almost always a cutoff date at which time, all emails and the account itself will be inaccessible or nonexistent.
For this reason, it is a good idea to manage school email accounts upon graduation to save important emails, contents, and documents tied to the account. This can be accomplished by:
- Linking or merging a school account to a primary account
- Storing emails and contacts from the account on a non-school based cloud server
- Forwarding key emails and contacts to a primary account
Once one of these options has been successfully carried out, it is also a good idea to send an email to primary contacts in the school account informing them of your primary email address and requesting that further communication be directed there.
Staying in Touch with Professors
Relationships you’ve cultivated with professors during your time in graduate school are worth maintaining throughout your career.
Professors who have mentored you, are familiar with your work, and supervised your fieldwork placements are invaluable professional contacts as you begin to search for jobs in the field, and if you are considering further studies.
Social work degree grads, you should let people know, through email or personal communication, that you appreciate their work with you and that you’d like to stay in touch. Ask if you can list them as a reference for potential employers, or request that they write you a recommendation letter.
These professors are now your peers in the field and can continue to guide you through the next steps in your career if you continue to cultivate the relationship.
Exchange personal contact information with them and follow through on maintaining contact over time. Set up calendar reminders for yourself to email them every few months, keeping them updated on your work in the field.
Archiving Journal Articles
As a student, the university library generally grants access to thousands of academic journals and peer-reviewed publications that require a paid subscription the university holds.
Upon graduation, students only have access to university library access to scholarly articles for a limited amount of time.
Social workers have an ethical responsibility to stay up to date in their fields and take an evidence-based approach to their work. Journal articles are key resources to fulfilling that ethical responsibility and graduates should be prepared to lose access to them, at least for a time.
While you still have journal access, take advantage of the ability to download and save academic literature applicable to your work. Search for keywords in your particular areas of interest and practice, then download and save relevant articles. Create a well-organized library of PDF files that you can access at any time.
Maintaining Student Files
If you were not the most organized student during graduate school, post-graduation is a good time to sort through your student files to organize and save those you might need for future reference.
Course syllabi and reading lists are handy items for recalling particular readings, activities, or practice methodologies you might want to review and use in the future. Syllabi are particularly helpful if you decide to pursue further studies later in your career, as you might be able to receive course credits for equivalent coursework.
Saving class notes might be helpful in refreshing your memory on particular theories and modalities. Any papers you’ve written should be saved as writing samples, or for the possibility of expanding on them in future research.
It is also recommended to request a few official transcripts to keep in your files for future needs, as many employers will request transcripts before hiring. Organize and label these files for safe keeping in a way that makes sense to you.
Professional Association Memberships
Professional association memberships connect recent grads to other professionals in the field, provide resources such as job listings and support groups, and create communities of practitioners who will be valuable throughout your career.
As a graduate student, you might have enrolled into a professional association on a student membership. Just after graduating might be your last chance to renew that student membership, or join a professional association for the first time, at the discounted student rate.