Thoughts

Marioli Sterling Outlines What it Means to be a Social Worker

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Social work is a broad profession, with individuals working in a variety of specialties across all kinds of environments. If you are a compassionate, understanding person who excels at communication and problem-solving, then social work might just be the right career path for you.

Marioli Sterling grew up in Panama where the focus in education was to prepare children for careers in business, law, and science. When Marioli immigrated to New York with her mother after high school, she studied business for a short time at college. Quickly, she learned that business wasn’t the right avenue for her; she wanted to make a change for the better in the world by helping people lead better lives. Luckily, Marioli discovered social work and was able to change her major to public administration. Ever since, Marioli has been working as a social worker in New York City.

“Social work is about working with people to make their lives and circumstances easier and more fulfilling,” says Marioli Sterling. That’s why social work is often ranked among the highest professions with job satisfaction. 

A social worker can choose to work with individuals, families, communities, or larger groups. They could work in hospitals, health care centres, clinics, private practices, and even in administration or government policy. So, if you are the type of person who thrives in fast paced environments and wants to make a real difference, social work might be the right place for you. For Marioli, the best part of being a social work boils down to four things.

Build Relationships

Social workers will find themselves working with a variety of people over the course of their careers. In order to successfully impact the lives of so many people, they must become master communicators and relationship builders. “The nature of the work means that the social worker will often become invested in the success of their clients,” says Marioli Sterling. The social aspect of social work is incredibly rewarding.

Witness the Benefits

“Something unique to social work is that you can often see the fruits of your labour,” explains Marioli. Unlike other professions where you contribute a portion of the work and rarely see the results, in social work you often work with a client from the beginning of an issue all the way through to its resolution, or as close as one can come to it. The progress you see your clients achieve is truly inspiring and often encourages social workers to continue striving for their goals. “We don’t go to work for a paycheck,” she says. “We go because we know we can make a difference.”

Ease Suffering

When a client is struggling with a family issue, illness, addiction, or any other challenge in their life, a social worker can make huge progress towards easing that suffering, Marioli explains. For example, if a client experiences a life-changing accident that lands him or her in a wheelchair, a social worker can set that person up for success. By liaising with hospitals and other caregivers, referring the client to additional resources and support groups, and counselling him or her. “No matter what the role of the social worker in any given case, I’ve seen the impacts of their labours. It’s amazing what having the right resources can do to ease suffering,” says Marioli.

Make the World a Better Place

Social work is not for the faint of heart. It can be difficult to see people in some of the most challenging moments in their lives. For compassionate people, it can cause stress and burnout, making them less effective at their jobs. But, if you can manage the trials that come along with working closely with people, every case you manage can make the world a better place. “Even if you work in government or administration,” says Marioli, “the work you do makes a huge impact on the lives of people who need it the most.”

For Marioli Sterling, the best reward is knowing that she eases suffering and does her bit to make the world a little brighter every day she goes to work. Social workers like her are essential for lifting up the underprivileged, disenfranchised, and suffering in the world. It is a noble vocation that many clients are often grateful for—and that makes all the difference.

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