Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Career Spotlight: Social Work

This is the second installment of monthly career spotlight blog series created by the team at, an educational directory and resource for adult learners interested in pursuing a graduate degree.  These articles are intended to provide an overview of the job outlook, salary data, daily life, and educational requirements of selected careers in hopes that one of these spotlights will help you decide what you want to be when you grow up.
Social Work Careers
Demand for qualified social work professionals is growing at a surprising rate.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts jobs in the field of social work will increase by 25% between 2010 and 2020.  Which means by 2020 there are expected to be 811,700 people employed in social work positions. 

This growth is expected across a broad range of specializations within the field.  Social Work professionals are employed in a variety of industries and work environments.  They might be employed by schools, hospitals, in-patient and out-patient mental health and rehabilitation facilities, non-profit organizations, home healthcare service providers, or local, state, or federal offices.  Social work professionals might pursue careers where they provide services directly to clients, as researchers, or as program directors or administrators. 

Clinical social workers, those who spend most of their time interacting with clients spend most of their time meeting with clients to assess their needs, provide counseling, and connecting their clients to available services.  Available services might include; food assistance, health care, housing, and employment or vocational training services.  Working as a clinical social worker is dynamic; no one work day will be identical to the next as each client will present the practitioner with new challenges and opportunities to provide care.  Clinical social workers must work to keep up to date on available services that may help their clients improve their lives. Social workers who wish to pursue careers as administrators or community organizers spend less time working directly with clients and more time creating programs  or managing programs that provide services to those in need, examples of these programs might include managing a food pantry, or working to establish community gardens in urban areas.  In essence, these social work professionals create and manage the programs and services that clinical social workers can utilize to connect the clients they are working with to the resources they need.  Social workers who focus on research might conduct studies to determine whether or not a specific program is able to create positive outcomes for the participants, or work to identify new intervention or counseling methods clinical social workers can use to better treat their clients.  Social workers in the field of research may spend some time working with the population seeking services, but they rarely provide direct care to these individuals.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in social work you may have several options.  If you have not already earned an undergraduate degree, you might consider majoring in social work as an undergraduate and then seek admission into a social work graduate program.  Individuals with an undergraduate degree in social work may qualify to enroll in an advanced standing program where they may be able to earn their MSW (Master’s in Social Work) in as little as 1 year.  Those without an undergraduate degree in social work are usually required to participate in a more traditional 2 year course of education.  Both programs are likely to require students to complete mandatory supervised training hours, working in professional settings under the guidance of a licensed social work practitioner.  Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in social work may be qualified to work in the field, but are not able to obtain licensure in most states.  Licensure may be particularly important for those interested in a career as a clinical social worker as licensure (LSW, LCSW) is often required for those interested in providing counseling.

Social workers salaries vary across industries and specializations the table below outlines some of the median salaries of social workers practicing in different job environments and specializations.  This data can be found in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics.

Social Work Specialization/Work Environment
Median Salary
Federal Government
Insurance Carriers
Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds
Medical and Surgical Hospitals
Specialty Hospitals
Local Government
Individual Family Services
Social Advocacy Organizations
Community Food and Housing

Visit if you are interested in learning more about a career in social work or researching graduate programs in this discipline.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What To Bring To Your Job Interview

It’s January, and hopefully you will start getting responses to the applications and resumes you’ve been submitting. While you don’t want to bring a box of items to an interview and look like you’re moving in, it is important to have a few key items with you. Here is a list of those key items.
  1. While you’re getting ready for an interview there are some simple things to remember. Simple – often forgotten – items include directions to the interview location, identification that may be needed to get into the building or suite, a fresh breath  spray, names of the people with whom you are meeting, notebook and pen and enough drive time to be about 15 minutes early to the interview.
  2. Resume copies for the hiring manager and others who may be at your interview. It may be helpful for them to review the resume as they are asking you questions.
  3. Reference list including contact information. Only present the list when requested by the recruiter or hiring manager. Be sure to tell your references when the list is given to a prospective employer so they are prepared to answer questions and provide feedback on your behalf. Additional tips about References for the Job Seeker.
  4. Bring a copy of the job description to use as a reference when you answer interview questions. Don’t overkill the use of keywords; rather show that you have a working knowledge of what the position entails through your use of similar language in the interview.
  5. Depending on the type of job you are interviewing for, you may need to bring a portfolio or samples of your work. Often this can be avoided by having samples available on your LinkedIn profile or other online venue. It is important to include links to these profiles on your paper resume.
Use a briefcase or folder for all printed materials that you bring to the interview. A simple portfolio with clear labels is a great option and will prevent you from looking disorganized when the hiring manager is requesting information from you. Here’s to you landing the career of your dreams!

Jessica Pierce the Executive Director of Career Connectors, a community outreach program dedicated to connecting Real People to Real Careers.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Art of Relationships

Completing an Annual Review as a Couple

We don’t think twice about doing annual reviews at work but I personally have never considered sitting down to complete one as a couple-till now. This isn’t an opportunity to bash your partner about your disappointments but rather discuss what fell short of your expectations and how you would like to change those things in the new year. The areas I chose to evaluate were: finances, health, getaways, personal development and family (but you can choose any categories that fit your relationship). First, I sat down with my husband and made a list of the things we were less than satisfied with in 2013, things we wish we had done and those items we often argued about. Then, I set up four columns that represented each of these categories and wrote down those items we discussed in the corresponding category (see example below).  When you get to this part be sure to phrase your complaint item in the form of a goal. Example: Instead of “We never go anywhere” say “I would like to go on an annual vacation somewhere outside of the state”.  Additionally, it often helps to se achievable and measurable goals. For example: “work out a minimum of 4 times a week for 40 minutes”. I can tell you at the end of the week if this goal was accomplished without any question or subjective opinion.

Finances : Pay more towards my student loans (a minimum of “x” a month)   

Health : Work out a minimum of 4 times a week for 40 minutes  

Getaways : Have a local getaway at least once every 2 weeks  

Personal Development : Set aside 30 minutes a day to read a book for leisure  

Family : Go on a walk as a family every evening after work   

It can be a daunting task to admit that there are areas that you are less than satisfied with. You may wonder if completing this annual review will make problems were there they didn’t previously exist. But my philosophy on the matter is treat your relationship like you treat your car (but better!... assuming you take care of your car). We do preventive maintenance to our car like changing the oil, washing it, keeping the tires inflated and the inside cleaned out… usually. We don’t wait to run out of gas before we decide to put gas in the car; we know that it needs it so we stop regularly to fill it up so it will function properly. Your relationship is no different, regular tune-ups are imperative and this is one way to make sure that you keep it working in tip top shape! Good luck and Happy New Year!

Jessica Gorman has spent her career working in the non-profit mental health field. She has graduate degrees in Counseling Psychology/Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Preparation and Education/Instructional Leadership and a BA in Psychology.  She has worked in a variety of settings including group homes, behavioral health agencies, universities and healthcare clinics. She has experience working as an individual, family, couple and group counselor for both children and adults.  Her personal interests within the mental health field include PTSD treatment (civilian and military) as well as the emotional challenges of parenthood.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Perimenopause + Fertility = 2014 Proactive Planning

By Ellen Dolgen

Contrary to popular opinion, you won’t just wake up one 2014 morning in menopause.

So when does menopause start? you ask. Your body actually begins “the change” 6-10 years before you reach menopause. This early menopausal transitional time is known as perimenopause. You are not in menopause until you’ve missed 12 consecutive periods.  The average age for the start of menopause is 51.

Unfortunately, during pre-menopause and perimenopause, one of the first things to take a hit is your fertility.

By age 30, about 95 percent women have only 12 percent of their original number of ovarian follicular cells, which are those which can develop into eggs, according to research from the University of Edinburgh. By age 40, only 3 percent of women’s egg-producing cells remain. However, the research also shows that most females have about 600,000 cells before birth. So even if you lose 97 percent of them by the time you blow out your birthday cake’s 40 candles, you still have 18,000 cells to celebrate!

Meanwhile, during perimenopause, you will probably find that your menstrual cycle is more unpredictable than ever, making it increasingly difficult for sperm to meet the eggs that you do have. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, menstrual cycles that vary in length by seven or more days are a telltale signs of perimenopause.

Even if your menstrual cycle is regular, however, it doesn’t mean you are necessarily ovulating regularly, says Dr. David B. Smotrich, M.D., a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology specializing in Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility. So put those ovulation sticks to good use! Per cycle, a 30-year-old has a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant, but by the time she hits 40, her odds drop to only 5 percent, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Still, it’s important to remember that all women experiencing menopause (and their baby makers) are unique, Dr. Smotrich says. In fact, as difficult as conceiving might seem to be, if you do not want to become pregnant in 2014, it’s still vital to use contraception during perimenopause, according to a recent review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. (Check out the best birth control options during perimenopause.)

If you are approaching 30 this New Year and have plans of getting pregnant in the future, Dr. Smotrich recommends having some baseline fertility tests performed for your big 3-0. Follow up with yearly tests until age 35, semi-annual tests (pair them with your trips to the Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sales!) until 39, and quarterly tests after that to monitor your fertility, he says. Some simple blood tests to consider: a Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test, which measures levels of hormones that control your menstrual cycle and production of eggs; a 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D Test, which determines your body’s levels of calcidiol, deficiencies of which can predispose your baby to health complications; an Estradiol Test, which measures a form of estrogen that is integral to conception and pregnancy, and an Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Test, which estimates the number of eggs in the ovaries.

If your numbers—and years—aren’t working in your favor this New Year, don’t panic. Fertility treatments exist to help give women the babies of their dreams. For instance, during in vitro fertilization, eggs are harvested from a woman’s ovaries, combined with sperm in a lab, and implanted in a woman’s uterus for the greatest chance of conception. In women ages 35 and younger that have up to six cycles of in vitro fertilization therapy, the live-birth rate ranges from 65 to 86 percent. The rate for women ages 40 and up ranges from 23 to 42 percent, according to an analysis of more than 6,000 patients published in The New England Journal of Medicine. According to Dr. Smotrich, the procedure usually costs about $10,000 per cycle.

However, since the risk of birth complications increases with the mother’s age, Dr. Smotrich recommends that, before trying to become pregnant, women older than 35 talk with their doctor about having their baby monitored during gestation for chromosomal conditions including Down Syndrome. A good 2014 offense is the best 2014 defense.

When it comes to fertility, ignorance is anything but bliss! But if we keep tabs on our biological clocks, we can help make sure that when our lives are ready for a baby, so are our bodies!

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

Ellen Dolgen is outspoken women’s health and wellness advocate, menopause awareness expert, author, and speaker.

After struggling through the silence that surrounds menopause, Ellen resolved to help women reach out and end the confusion, embarrassment, and less-than-lovely symptoms that come with “the change.” Her passion to be a “sister” to all women fueled Ellen’s book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of her women’s wellness journey, and in response to the overwhelming thirst of her ever-expanding audience for empowering information, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM was born.

Menopause MondaysTM allows Ellen an expansive platform from which she broadens her discussion of menopause, women’s health, and life as a menopausal woman. Her weekly newsletter provides a one-stop shop for the latest menopause and women’s health news and research, allowing women the access and know-how needed to take charge of their health and happiness. In addition to Ellen’s ever-growing social media presence, has fast become “the place” on the web for informative and entertaining women’s menopause and wellness engagement. Ellen is #1 on Dr. Oz Top 10 Social HealthMakers on Menopause. In 2012 and 2013 Mondays was named first on the list of the “Best Menopause Blogs” by Healthline. Ellen is also a regular contributor to over a dozen leading women’s health blogs. Her motto is: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

Ellen has founded a women’s health and wellness program that provides corporate education events for businesses, healthcare institutions, and other organizations. She produces and facilitates Menopause Mondays PartiesTM for organizations across the country. In addition, she works with pharmaceutical companies in helping them understand and address women’s health needs. Ellen co-chaired a social media roundtable for Novo Nordisk in 2012. In 2013, Ellen was a key spokesperson for GLAMTM (Great Life After Menopause) a non-branded campaign sponsored by Novo Nordisk.

She serves on the Community Advisory Board of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and has chaired and served on various boards and committees for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, San Diego Hospice, Brandeis University, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, NARAL, the Phoenix Heart Ball, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Weizmann Institute of Science, Angel Charity for Children, Brewster Auxiliary, and Handmaker Home for the Aging. Ellen’s lifelong commitment to philanthropy through board representation, fundraising, and event organization continues with her founding of Menopause Mondays, which assists in promoting women’s health and wellbeing around the world.

Ellen has appeared on the “TODAY Show,” The Katie Show,” “NBC Nightly News”, the “Rachael Ray Show,” “The Doctors,” Oprah Radio, Playboy Radio, NPR’s “Tell Me More,” Doctor Radio, and dozens of regional and national media outlets. In 2011 she appeared in a production of “The Vagina Monologues.” Ellen was one of the first regular contributors to debut on The Huffington Post’s, Huff/Post50, which targets 116 million Americans over the age of 50.

Ellen is the founder and president of Menopause Mondays and is a principal of Dolgen Ventures along with her husband, David. She lives in Coronado, California, and has two adult children, Sarah and Jack.

Like Ellen Dolgen on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Pinterest, connect with her on LinkedInGoogle+, and Klout, watch her videos on YouTube, and subscribe to her newsletter.