International social work careers are available in many sectors and locations. Social work has always been a way to improve people’s quality of life and well-being. But what if that community takes you far away from home? International social workers move worldwide to protect against social injustices, violations of civil liberties, human rights violations, crisis intervention, and problems from poverty.
This field is also one of the most complex. International Social Work combines several disciplines such as sociology, law, medicine, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, politics, and also economics. When you work as an international social worker, you face even more issues going to different parts of the world and working within several cultures. That’s why resourcefulness, humility, communication, and tenacity are essential qualities to anyone who wants to work in international social work. This guide goes over the basics of international social work, how to get a job in this field and overcoming some of the challenges that these humanitarians face.
What is International Social Work?
Social work is a very broad term. Domestic social work will often take you down several avenues, whether working with children, homeless, adults, families, or handicapped. However, the goal is still the same. Social workers want to improve the quality of life for individuals, communities, groups, minorities, or the impoverished. The difference is in the way that you go about it.
For instance, you can’t replace a way of doing something as better. Instead it must be equal, and you must contribute as a gentle mentor and innovator. International social workers take what they learn from domestic social work and combine it with foreign studies and language to offer their services abroad. While language is a significant part of working internationally, social workers have to learn a lot about the culture and understand the complex issues that people face every day.
Education For International Social Workers
Students interested in pursuing a career in international social work can achieve this goal with education. Some accredited international social work programs at the graduate level have a global concentration. These international social work master’s degree programs prepare students with the skills to work in the field. In addition, students can find more information about schools in other countries from the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW).
Attributes and Qualities of International Social Workers
Most international social workers have to do extensive research about where they want to work. They are resourceful people with a knack for understanding people of different cultures and beliefs. It ultimately takes a lot of humility and determination, especially when coming into a community that may not appreciate your presence.
Being personable, generous, and genuinely willing to learn are vital skills needed to connect with people. Most international social workers start as domestic social workers. Typically, someone may for five years in a community and then branch out into international social work. These people also have lived with different cultures and classes. Community organization, fundraising, and grant writing are also fundamental skills to helping grassroots organizations in other countries.
Job Environment for International Social Workers
The market for international social work jobs is very competitive. When you work on a global scale, you compete with people from all over the globe for one position. With more job competition, you must understand the necessary experience, skills, resources, and cultures involved in a post before applying. Prospective employers hire the best person for the job. Therefore, they assess and applicant’s previous experience, cultural knowledge, and also innovative projects.
When you work as a social worker, you must be prepared to handle anything. You may live in another class or spend time living with villagers in a remote part of the world. That’s why it is so essential to be humble and resourceful because as much as a community needs you, you also need them. You’ll need plenty of skills to become an international social worker. You never know where you may have to travel or what to do to help a community.
Many international social workers start as volunteers. This starting point gives you more of a chance to learn skills and gain cultural experience for a more significant, paid role in the future. Currently, paid international humanitarian positions are limited because unemployment is very high in other countries. That’s why volunteers can get their foot in the door and also gain worldly experience for multiple causes.
Organizations Which Employ International Social Workers
There are a variety of international organizations for social work jobs. Some of these are government-related, and others are private grassroots organizations. In addition, people often earn positions through national embassies, which are in capital cities. These embassies should have a list of programs and organizations in their country that work with different communities.
The list of international social work organizations is long, but a few organizations are popular with international social workers. These include the Council for International Education and Exchange (CIEE), International Rescue Committee (IRC), International Justice Mission (IJM), Save the Children, the Institute for International Education (IIE), and the International Society for the Intercultural Training and Research. The United Nations also has a lot of resources for those who want to get into international social work. They list all of their openings online at the United Nations Careers network. In addition, a variety of colleges and other institutions have programs that get you started in international social work quite early. Finally, professors with international backgrounds or study abroad advisers can provide more literature on how to join a program to go overseas as a global social worker
International social work is definitely for those inspired by other cultures. However, the road to becoming a successful international humanitarian takes a lot of time working within other cultures and getting used to the feeling of being out of place but not out of touch. While many jobs will test your experience and knowledge, if you have a passion for helping communities get organized and provide resources, you will be a great asset no matter where you go.
Your Career In International Social Work
Anyone considering a professional career as an international social worker must research and consider all factors before choosing to leave their home. In addition, it’s often a culture shock to enter a different world. However, by volunteering and working with grassroots organizations worldwide, you’ll gain more comfort and the ability to prepare yourself for much more significant roles down the road.