Social work isn’t what you might think, and the students pursuing social work degrees through Boise State’s School of Social Work are as different as their passions and goals for their lives and futures. That’s a very good thing – the challenges they face in their internships, graduate assistantships and coursework show just how needed their perspectives and skills are.
Here’s a sneak peek at the “social workers” of the future (spoiler alert: The term hardly captures the range of what they’re interested in – and what they might accomplish.)
Alumni May 2020
Abby Bisgard graduated in May 2020 and works now with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Boise as a social worker in the residential substance use/disorder program. The job offer came as the result of her social work internship in the outpatient substance use program; she was hired for full-time work in August of 2020 and has been moving between work assignments in recent weeks as the result of the pandemic.
Relationships play an important part of how Bisgard ended up in Idaho; she was a social worker in Minnesota whose co-worker was an advanced-standing participant in Boise State’s online social work program. She and her partner were ready to move about the time she wanted to work on her master’s degree – and Boise State faculty members were able to facilitate her transition into the program before she moved to Idaho.
“I really kind of dove headfirst into new,” Bisgard said. “I didn’t know anybody.”
Her internship also was lined up in advance.
“I loved the generalist education that I got,” she said. “Already being a social worker, I had a good grasp on clinical skills.
“They definitely prepare you.”
Noting that her partner is a veteran, Bisgard said colleagues had had great experiences interning with the VA. Given the scope of the agency, the possibilities are nearly limitless; Bisgard can imagine staying with the agency throughout her career.
“The lovely thing about the VA is you could go anywhere,” she said. “There are just so many opportunities.”
Bisgard finished her internship just as COVID-19 swept across Idaho occurred, then took the permanent position. From her vantage point as a graduate and as an employee whose recent professional success is closely tied to the Boise State program, she can see that the area community of social workers, at the VA, at area hospitals and clinic, is weighted toward the Boise State program, along with Northwest Nazarene University and a handful of other academic institutions. Boise State faculty and alumni, who mentor across the community and stay in touch with graduates, glue the network together.
“I was really impressed by the professors and leadership at Boise State, how they handled COVID and the emotional support and the kindness and understanding of people,” she said.
“And my best friends I met in the social work program.”