“I LEARNED MORE IN ONE EIGHT-HOUR SHIFT THAN IN TWO YEARS OF GRAD SCHOOL. THIS SHOWED ME IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE CLASSROOM LEARNING.”
Brookline High School
Title: Social Worker
College: Wesleyan College
First Job: Childcare counselor at the Home for Little Wanderers
Current Salary: $75,000+
After starting out as a childcare counselor at The Home for Little Wanderers, Paul became a licensed social worker and returned to Brookline High School, his alma mater, where he has remained for 17 years. Paul credits experiential learning with much of his growth as a Social Worker, and is a strong advocate for “learning by doing”.
What do you love about your current job?
This is a very abnormal job. Every year is different. Every day is different. The students come and go and they are constantly refreshing. I’m constantly learning. I stay in touch with my students and I value my relationships with them. I value relationships with them as much today as I did day one.
What was your first professional job out of college and what did you learn?
My first job was at the Home for Little Wanderers working as a child care counselor on a residential unit. I learned more in one eight-hour shift than in two years of grad school. This showed me it’s not all about the classroom learning. That first job out of college continues to frame the lens through which I see the world of social work.
What the best advice you ever received?
Some of the best advice I got was to learn by example. My mentor’s ability to bond with kids and build relationships was really empowering. He was one of those guys you could learn so much from just by watching him.
What experience in college helped you get to where you are today?
That light bulb moment for me was when I got paired with an eleven-year-old boy as a volunteer through Big Brothers Big Sisters. After the first time we met I knew that I wanted to be a social worker. We kept a journal to write down what we did every time and we added stories to it… The lesson there is that you never know who it is that will touch your life in an important way.
What advice would you give to a college student looking to build a career as a problem solver?
Supplement your classroom experience with real-world experience. Do the low-paying job at the ground level. Having that experience on the front line, grassroots level when it is direct service is where the learning occurs. Social workers and problem solvers are made, not born. Which is why it is important to learn by doing.