Allie Medellin, MSW and BSW graduate from IU Bloomington in May 2014 and MSW graduate at IUPUI in 2015. I am the Assistant Director of Employer & Career Services with the School of Science at IUPUI. I have been working as an advisor in higher education for almost three years. Previously, I was a community-based therapist and taught for a career readiness program for high school students called Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).
I originally started college believing I would be a journalist. After starting as a writer for the student paper, I quickly realized I did not see myself in that career. When considering my career and major interests, I found myself thinking about my family’s experience as an emergency foster placement home for children involved with DCS. We had several teenage foster children who struggled to identify their educational and career paths because they lacked consistent support. I knew I wanted to work with transitional aged youth but wasn’t sure how. I was immediately drawn to social work because it is a well-rounded degree path that would give me flexibility to explore a variety of paths.
Initially I was a community-based therapist working mostly with youth who had experienced trauma. I found that working therapy was not a good fit and felt drawn to finding a career that married social work with my passion for education. I set my sights on pursuing a career in higher education and eventually joined the School of Science at IUPUI as a career advisor. Although it is not a common social work path, I have discovered many professionals in higher education with social work backgrounds. I advise students on things like resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. Beyond this, I engage with students in career and major exploration advising which allows me to really lean on my social work training and motivational interviewing techniques to help students identify their goals.
Being a social worker in higher education has definitely been beneficial. My social work degree offers me a unique perspective while advising students because I am trained to view students as a sum of their collective experiences. Social work is such a vast and diverse field but it is also well-connected. I have found that the strength of social workers is the community we build together and the value of advocacy that we all share.
I feel a strong sense of accomplishment for every student I advise who finds success. Sometimes it is a student who engaged in a mock interview who emails me to say they landed the job. Other times it is a student who used their revised resume to secure their first internship. Equitable access to internships and research experiences is very important to me. Because of this, I was able to successfully launch a scholarship for science students participating in unpaid or underpaid internship experiences. This isn’t the work I envisioned doing when I was an undergrad but I find myself helping transitional aged youth in a unique way.
2020 brought many challenges for students and higher education in general. We are always working to adapt our resources and advising to meet students where they are at. Beyond the challenges of 2020, I believe one of the biggest challenges facing the students I work with is equitable access to resources, opportunities, and social capital to ensure students reach their professional goals. Because of these challenges, I am continuously involved in initiatives and committees focused on supporting the career success of women, URM, and first-generation students.
Pursuing a degree in social work prepares you for SO MANY career opportunities. If you are unsure where you “fit” in the social work world I would encourage you to try new experiences, engage in some informational interviews, and engage in reflection on your professional values.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – John Watson