Career Opportunities for
Social Change Students
People often wonder what kinds of opportunities are available for MSW students who concentrate in social change. There are a wide range of possibilities. Some examples include:
Community Outreach/Education: Community educators give workshops and seminars to community groups on a particular issue or population experience. For example, one local nonprofit homeless service provider has a community educator to meet with schools, volunteers, and other community groups (Girl Scouts, United Way campaign events, etc.) to educate them about homelessness and its root causes. A local government agency employs a community outreach person to raise awareness about domestic violence (DV) and to strategize with communities on reducing the prevalence of DV in their communities.
Policy Analyst: Policy analysts are employed in government settings, think tanks, and issue-based advocacy organizations. Their job involves analyzing social policies, doing background research on policy issues, writing papers and giving presentations on current social policies.
Advocacy and Public Policy Coordinators: Advocacy and public policy coordinators work in nonprofit, community-based social service agencies or issue-based advocacy organizations. They engage in work similar to policy analysts. In addition, they often give testimony on pending or existing legislation, conduct lobby visits with policy decision-makers, and educate various constituency groups about legislative and budgetary processes.
Community Organizers: Community organizers bring together people directly affected by a problem to collectively reflect, plan, and act to achieve a desired change. In the D.C. area, several agencies use community organizing as a change strategy: ONE DC, Empower DC, Tenants and Workers United, the Virginia Organizing Project. There are a variety of community organizing positions across the country.
Community/Social Developers: Community and social developers use many of the same methods as community organizers, but the goal is primarily toward economic and social development. Graduates get careers in community and social development at agencies within the U.S. and abroad.
Administrators: Agency administrators work in nonprofit, private or public settings. Many students return to school to pursue a MSW after working in the field for several years. Their work experience has driven them to seek change by managing and directing the organizations that provide social services.
Program Evaluators: Both public and private agencies are focused on documenting the outcomes their programs achieve for clients. Funding sources require organizations to be able to show process and outcome data that can be compared with other agencies, viewed across time, and translated into benefits per dollar. Macro social workers are well prepared to conduct evaluations using their research skills, interviewing and observational capacities, and ability to write clear reports that promote organizational discussion and change.
Direct Social Work Practice: Many MSW students who concentrate in social change want to start their careers doing direct practice with a particular population before moving into a career exclusively focused on social change activities.