Austin Legislative Internship Program

Empowered and Relieved

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by Arielle Day, intern in the Texas Legislative Study Group

Empowered and relieved are the primary emotions I am experiencing as Sine Die, the last day of session, approaches. My classmates and I embarked upon this journey knowing that we would have to surmount a steep learning curve in an environment that isn’t particularly social worker friendly, and we did just that. In the beginning, feelings of insecurity surfaced regarding whether or not I, a social worker, am actually equipped with the necessary skills to work in an environment as contentious and cold as the capitol. To my surprise I discovered that my social work skills and knowledge base necessitate my participation in the political process and actually grant me an advantage in political settings.

Active listening, critical thinking, setting boundaries, empathy, effective verbal and written communication, self determination, and self-care are just a few of the social work skills and concepts that have proven to be more important to my work in this environment than classroom discussions have ever been able to convey. Having a base level of knowledge and training as a social work student was enough to build off of and rely on when the pace and demands of session intensified. On most days, something as seemingly simple as setting boundaries and having a realistic self-care plan in place was the difference between coming to work as a productive team member ready to tackle the day’s workload or showing up like a limp dishrag ready to self-destruct.

“After this… I know I can do anything.” This is a statement several of my classmates and I have repeated to each other over the course of the last few weeks. The sixty-hour (and sometimes more) work weeks, the high-stress situations, the anxiety provoking phone calls, and the inevitable bonding that took place within the group gives cause for renaming this internship, Social Worker Boot Camp. In accordance with the desired outcome of this social worker boot camp – and the mission of the Graduate College of Social Work – I now feel that I have obtained the necessary skills and training to promote and achieve sustainable social, racial, economic, and political justice.

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