Soundtrack in my head: The Primitives, “Spin-O-Rama”
I knew it…but…it’s now official. I’m in the hell year of the four-year part-time graduate program at UW’s School of Social Work. Our program director even confirmed it.
I knew it was going to be crazy when I saw that we would be enrolled for seven graduate credits in both the fall and spring semester of this school year. Eight is considered full-time, so rather than attend half-time like I did last year, I’m attend 7/8 time this year.
The big event of this year is my field placement (aka “unpaid internship”). I’m doing this at an agency that helps people suffering from certain types of mental illness find jobs in the normal, competitive labor market. I’m enjoying it so far–I feel like I chose my agency well. Now they are starting to hand me the steering wheel in working with some of our clients (whom we refer to as “consumers”). Unlike most of my classmates who have experience in social worker roles at social service agencies, this is a brand new thing for me. But, with the help and encouragement of my co-workers, I’m seeing that I do bring relevant skills to the table.
I’ve gone from juggling one to three classes at a time, and I’m in class on Saturday from 9 am to 3:15 pm, so Saturday has become the new Friday for me in this hell year.
It took me about four weeks to get used to the pace, but I’m catching up now. I can’t even imagine trying to do this on top of a full-time job, but that’s what most of my classmates are doing. I was talking to a friend recently who also spent four years attending grad school part-time (not in social work) while working full-time, and she described those four years as some of the worst in her life. Talk about hell year in the plural.
I’m determined not to feel the same way about my grad school years, as I don’t want to get my MSW (Master’s in Social Work) and be already burned out after taking off my cap and gown. This year we talk a lot about “self-care” in class, and my three tools are meditation, journal-writing, and something I am calling “Self-Care Sundays” in which I set aside one day a week to do whatever I want. We’ll see if I can keep those things up…