BSW Field Education Poster Sessions

Claire Smart, BSW

Diverse settings. Real-world experience. Professional impact.

In recent years, a representation of junior and senior social work students have showcased their BSW field education experiences for our campus communities. During the poster session, these students describe some of the highlights of these experiences, including the skills they developed and how their placements informed and shaped their professional development.

Roles of the social work student:

  • Put together a presentation for 6th- 12th graders
    • Include: worksheets, PowerPoint, and games
  • Work with clients through the intake process
  • Sign clients up with SNAP and/or NAPS if they want it
  • Help clients pick out healthy food
  • Refer clients to other services, if necessary
  • Go out into the community and inform people about the food shelf

Food insecurity is a huge problem, so I did outreach to let people know about the food shelf.  We also had a senior mobile food shelf that we'd take to senior communities.  I especially enjoyed working with the elderly.  This placement definitely influenced my long-term interest in working with this population.

We work with an anger management and domestic violence educational series for perpetrators.  The role of the social work student includes:

  • Co-facilitate groups
  • Assist in group curriculum planning
  • Provide crisis intervention
  • Conduct intakes
  • Connect clients to resources
  • Case-note interactions with clients, referral sources, and victims
  • Data entry into ClientTrack database
  • Contact with referral sources (probation/parole officers, child protection workers)

Marissa - Clients need so many resources.  Learning how and where to find these resources was a big part of the job. Gaining experience with the justice system and learning about working with parole officers was especially interesting.  Long-term, I want to work with anyone who has experienced a form of trauma.

Lindsey - We work with a stigmatized population that committed domestic violence, but they're people. Teaching them life skills, communication, and building healthy behaviors is very rewarding. I really enjoyed working with mandated clients (99% are court-mandated to be in the program). It opened my eyes to the need for macro social workers.  I'm interested in advocacy to remove labels ("labels are for objects not people").

The role of the social work student:

  • Restorative Justice Management Intern
  • Data entry, case noting, and initial phone calls for restorative justice cases
  • Conduct trainings and assist in role playing
  • Facilitate mediations and restorative justice conferences
  • Manage and research resources for youth
  • Community outreach
  • Assist in program and curriculum development

In this placement I learned how to work with youth; how to communicate effectively with other agencies; restorative justice and mediation facilitation; how to work with grants/contracts; and basic work evaluating program outcomes.

In this placement, I supported the school social worker, who provides individual counseling and support groups for students with issues such as grief and loss, friendship, family change, anger and anxiety; provides character education lessons and classroom presentations; and helps parents and students meet basic needs by referring to resources, helping with school supplies, and winter clothes.

I liked meeting with the kids and building rapport. At first I was hesitant to work with younger kids because I was afraid they wouldn't "get it" the way adolescents do, but I adapted the message and they really did - and they were great to work with.  At all ages, you need to give kids the opportunity to talk and really listen to them.

I'm now open to school social work and working with all ages of kids. I enjoyed having staff support and doing interprofessional work with other professions - especially the teachers.

After talking with peers and my instructors, as well as making connections with my courses, I am able to see Social Work at the CDC in these different ways:

  • The dignity and worth of a person
  • Communication
  • Creating rapport-building relationships with the children
  • Theory and Practice → RIE Program (“The basis of Magda Gerber’s RIE philosophy is respect for, and trust in the baby to be an initiator, an explorer, and a self-learner.”)

The RIE philosophy focuses on development of the child; self-determination, respect and trust. I'm interested in working with children, so it's important to understand normal development in children to differentiate between what's normal and what's not.

As a social work student, I have been able to do all the same tasks that a staff member would do. To the youth, there is no difference between a field student and a staff member. Some of the tasks I have been able to do at my placement include:

  • case management for youth in shelter
  • intakes
  • maintain milieu on the floor
  • lead group with youth
  • coordinate transportation to school
  • one on one conversations with youth
  • maintain contact

My favorite part of the job is taking the youth on outings (to the park, the zoo, etc..). These outings provide a different perspective and you see that they want to do the same things as other 13 or 14-year olds.  I thought I wanted to work with small kids, but now I'm leaning towards older ages.  I've been able to connect well with sexually-exploited youth and I'm also interested in working with foster care youth in transition.

My personal field experience has included monitoring and documenting supervised visitations. This includes observing and taking non-judgmental notes on visits between noncustodial parents and their children, including high risk situations.

Prior to this placement, I had never considered working with children, but now I see that they're the key to everything. I've been able to watch the children grow and see the parents grow - it's been fun to watch and to know that the parents will be OK.  I'm interested in corrections work and I'm now considering working with juveniles.

In this placement, I've been able to work at all levels of practice. At the micro and mezzo level, I work with individuals and groups who contact the Governor's office and listen to their concerns and opinions. Each week, I synthesize this information and create weekly reports about constituents' top 10 issues. As appropriate, I refer individuals to resources in the government and the community. Now, I'm also doing more complicated case work.

At the macro/policy level, I attend committee hearings, track likely outcomes, and do background policy research. When listening to bills, I recognize that they are often lacking in justification from a social justice perspective. Compared to interns from other disciplines (such as political science) that I work with, I think it's clear that I'm a social worker because I do a lot less talking and a lot more listening.  I use more verbal prompting and empathy skills, and I know how to work with people who need other resources. This placement has affirmed my interest in going into macro social work practice!

We are working as case managers with some of the Center's most vulnerable clients, including those without insurance, those seeking asylum, and those with mental illness, to name a few. We get a lot of referrals from the law students working in the legal clinics who identify clients that need additional support. The purpose of a case manager in the Center is to serve vulnerable populations by connecting them to appropriate services that meet their current needs; to monitor the effectiveness of services provided, and to adapt services as needs change; and to empower clients and assist them in achieving their goals in order to optimize their functioning and quality of life.

A highlight of the placement is getting to work with clients on an on-going basis.  You get to hear their stories and build a relationship over time. Building rapport is so important to a productive relationship!  We've become better at this over time and feel more confident in the relationship-building component.  It's been great to work with the clinical MSW graduate students on an interdisciplinary team and learn more about what they do. We're both interested in case management and may be interested in clinical social work in the future.

I work in the Skills for School program, for children 3-5 years old, helping our youngest participants develop the skills they will need to enter kindergarten. We support predominantly immigrants who need help with the English language. The curriculum touches on critical areas of development for pre-school aged children. Each day, the children participate in activities that help them learn the fundamentals, such as numbers, letters and colors. Through songs, stories, rhymes and conversation, the children naturally improve their language skills, and playtime offers the opportunity to develop great social skills.

I love working with children and this placement has helped me really understand the younger kids and how to interact with them. Watching their development is wonderful!

In this placement I work with the kids (10-16 years old) who've offended and are receiving other services, to help the youth comply with their personal probation case plans.  I assist collaborating with the 4th Judicial District Juvenile Court; the Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation; the Human Services and Public Health Department; the County Attorney’s Office; the Public Defender’s Office; the school districts (teachers, school social workers); Parents/Guardians/Guardians ad litem; mental health case workers; therapists; and program facilitators from community based resources.

I chose this placement because I wanted real experience and to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  I've learned how "little" I am - and that's OK.  Within this very complex system, my role in helping these youth is small, but necessary to their overall well-being. I can't help with a lot of their problems, but I can make an impact and help them see that their problems don't define them.

I was intrigued to do a placement in assisted living because of the variety of experiences it provided, including working with patients with mental illness (including schizophrenia, which was eye-opening) and the opportunity to work interprofessionally with other health providers.  

I really like working with the elderly and have learned a lot. My duties and learning have included: using an interpreter to complete PHQ.9’s; learning to speak to residents from different backgrounds; helping others that are struggling financially (ex: getting their social security, transferring bank accounts to facility); assisting residents with referrals to other facilities; keeping residents physically and emotionally satisfied, including referring them to psychological and physical therapy; working with the residents' loved ones and helping with their needs; and learning how to work with older adults / elders. ​

In this placement, I worked with a curriculum called The Zones of Regulation that focuses on self-regulation and emotional control. The curriculum is broken down into four colored Zones, each with corresponding emotions and states of alertness. The Zones help students visually and verbally identify how they are feeling at any given moment as well as give strategies to manage emotions and impulsive behavior. This curriculum is used in most classrooms, kindergarten and up, throughout the Minneapolis School District. Because of this, we think it is important for our preschool students to become familiar with the Zones before they get to kindergarten in order to have extra support.

I've had a chance to help re-work the curriculum to make it relevant for younger kids. This has meant creating things like puppet shows, songs, etc. - all with the goal of getting kids to understand their feelings and help them get back into the "green zone."  I've loved working with the kids - especially in one-on-one settings. It has affirmed my interest in working with children.


I work in hospice, supporting patients and their loved ones holistically. I have a caseload of 4-6 patients ​and my role includes assessment of the bio-psycho-social-emotional-spiritual-cultural whole of the patient​; creation and implementation of patient-centered goals (monitoring and changing as needed); non-medication interventions​; One-on-One support​; guided imagery​; breathing exercises; assistance in offering resources​; legal/financial​ planning; and working as part of an interdisciplinary team.

It can be hard when you have a relationship with a patient and they pass, but it is extremely rewarding and I have a supervisor who was a St. Kate's BSW grad and is extremely supportive.


I work in bereavement to support primary caregivers (and their families) over a 13 month period following the death of their loved one(s). The role includes phone calls to offer support and services, and establish / evaluate a bereavement plan of care​; One-on-One visits at our facility or in the family’s home​; co-planning annual memorial events and workshops​; planning and co-facilitating support groups; locating and recommending grief educational resources; ​recording and responding to service evaluation surveys​; and more.

I chose this placement because it made me uncomfortable, but it has been extremely meaningful and has really opened my eyes. The conversations I've had with loved ones have given me a great sense of meaning and appreciation.  

The goal of the agency is to help young people dealing with chemical dependency to develop the skills to cope with the stresses of adolescence and the motivation to change. A lot of my role is leading psycho-educational groups, teaching life skills and coping skills. 

Crisis intervention has been a huge learning experience for me. Although I have not had to deal with these situations myself, I have been in a lot of staffings in which we discuss what we did, what could have gone better, and what we can do moving forward with this client. This has provided me a lot of insight as to what I should do if a crisis situation does occur.​

This placement has been a great opportunity to practice group work. I lead 3-hour violence prevention classes that incorporate how to handle anger, frustration, etc.. About 99% of the population I work with are court-appointed to be there and it's a required "stop" to get off of supervised probation. Our staff teaches clients about different kinds of communication, stress relievers, and other resources in order to better handle and avoid violent situations. In addition to my agency colleagues, I also have a lot of communication with probation/parole officers and child protection workers.

I've learned a ton, including how to handle the challenge of dealing with aggressive men.  I wouldn't have chosen to work with perpetrators, but it has been a great learning experience.

The most powerful part of this experience was my supervisor. He brings light to a very dark place. He is a compassionate, empathetic, gentle man. This placement in intake child services represented my dream job. It confirmed my interest and solidified what I hope to do. Why? It boils down to intent and ability to impact children and families in a positive way. In these situations, it can sometimes seem black and white, but it's not. To be able to help guide people in a way that will improve their whole situation is great. To be able to be present and listen and impact a child's life in a positive way is amazing.

My favorite part of this placement was being with the kids.  A lot of time I worked with the families as well, and I needed to learn how to make it a "bigger conversation" to include the parents and others.  I also learned to match the mood and environment of the group. However, what I most enjoyed was the "smaller" connections with the kids. These interactions were extremely satisfying.

This placement solidified my interest in working with children.  I already knew this is where I was headed and this experience provided me with valuable new skills.  It was great to work on an interprofessional team with medical professionals and other social workers with whom I could share ideas and gain different perspectives.

The biggest impact of my field placement was the confidence it gave me. I was able to learn and expand my knowledge base, and connect people with the resources they needed using a holistic approach to best support them for long-term effect.

This program was extremely collaborative in nature. All of the medical services were in one place, which allowed us to take a multi-disciplinary approach and connect clients with other resources immediately. Having centralized services was so effective for the clients, who might otherwise have difficulty making it to multiple appointments because of transportation, time off, or other commitments.

We worked with families in the initial stages of parenting, supporting their transition during the earliest stages of their child's life. I've always wanted to work with families and now realize that I'm open to working with families at an even earlier stage than what I was thinking.

I used a lot of group facilitation skills and loved the group work skills class. When a mom is supported, it can change her whole outlook to "I CAN do this!"  I used research and the ability to find resources to determine the best practices to use with clients. I also applied a lot of self-care to my teaching work with the moms, helping them understand the importance of taking time for "self" in being an effective parent.

Hearing these students' stories has made a big impact on me. Even though I went to a nearby high school, these students have had completely different experiences. Many of them aren't living in stable circumstances; often not living with their parents; often responsible for their siblings; often needing to work to support their families.

I wanted to work in a school with adolescents this year since my Junior placement was with adults. This placement has been somewhat difficult because I am similar in age to many of the students. Strong personal connections are important. Recently, I started a young women's group in which we talk about what it means to be a woman, self-care, and other topics introduced by the group.

I use a lot of communication and interviewing skills gained in class and have been able to apply my knowledge of working in crisis situations. I work in an interdisciplinary team with teachers, nurses, and other professionals, which has given me a good perspective on both education and health, and made me realize how much I enjoy working in a team environment.

I had a strong geriatric background, so learning about working with different populations – especially immigrants and refugees – was a huge learning curve for me. Now I’m much more comfortable working with a wide variety of populations. Working with teams of BSW and MSW students was great because we were able to bounce ideas off of each other. We had a lot of interaction with the law students, which was interesting because they were usually not exactly sure what social workers do, so there was a lot of educating them about our profession and what social workers bring to the table. I learned a lot about professional communication across disciplines, especially related to working with personality types very different from my own. I am now more interested in working clinically with those who have Alzheimers and dementia.

My experience working with both clinical social workers and counselors opened my eyes to new opportunities in social work and it feels like I have more options open to me now.

This placement built on a lot of the skills I developed last year, including building rapport, documentation, and crisis management. My supervisor allowed me to make mistakes and provided a save place to experience the emotions I felt when working with upsetting ideas, such as suicidal ideation. I grew as a person and I was encouraged to be authentic. 

I worked with adults, all over 18, who had been referred to this program.  I worked with two group therapists and two psychiatrists.  The program was very team-centered and once per week I met with the doctors and therapists to develop the cohesive plan for each client.  I felt valued by the doctors - they really cared what the social workers thought.

This field placement gave me formal experience working with adults with mental illness and helped me learn about my personal style of practice.  I was surprised at how naturally it came to me and that I knew more than I thought I did.  I was able to see the clients' issues through a social work lens and really apply the planned change process. 

It can be intimidating working with these populations, comprised primarily of adults with serious, persistent mental illness. There are some personal biases and societal stigma attached to many of the illnesses faced by these populations. This placement enabled me to see these individuals "in their environments" and the strengths that they do have. 

This placement has made me more sure that I want to work in mental health.  I've been thinking I want to work with kids, but it has also shown me that I might want to work with adults in the future as well.

My supervisor was amazing and made sure I was getting what I wanted out of the experience. Going into it, I thought I wanted to work with the elderly population and now I'm sure that I do. It solidified what I wanted to do and gave me exposure to hospice, which is where I think I want to go [with my career].

My grandparents raised me. My grandpa got sick with pancreatic cancer and we had a social worker come in with hospice and she was amazing - so caring – and made sure all of our needs were met and questions answered. She corrected any problems that were going on and I had a whole conversation with her about what she does and I realized that that's what I want to do: help people work through different problems, coordinate different resources. She helped me realize that death isn't really the end of everything, and that there's a lot that goes into helping people die with dignity that others don't think about, but that social workers think I decided that's what I wanted to do.

[This placement] really opened my eyes to people who are living in poverty - what that looks like and what those challenges are. I really got on the advocacy train. So many of our clients were on MFIP (MN Family Investment Program: MN's program that assists low-income families with children to economic stability through work) on $437 per month and trying to find housing, pay their bills, and live a sustainable lifestyle...and it's absolutely NOT doable.

There are two areas I'm interested in: one is the education piece for these types of clients: getting them more education and job training so they can get out of poverty; the other is advocacy: what can we do to raise the minimum wage? what can we do to make MFIP more sustainable for families?

I've been working in a youth development program, mostly working with high schoolers. I'm a career and college counselor and so we work on increasing opportunities for our youth. It's been great working with teens. At first it was a little intimidating since I wasn't sure how they'd react with me since I'm only 21, but it's been a great experience learning how to interact with them… [It’s been ] great "group work "experience, talking in front of people, and learning how to engage a group versus individuals. My favorite part is working with the teenagers, and it's been a great experience since I hope to one day be a school counselor - and so it's been a good fit for me.

I managed a case load of 25 to 30 youth and I worked with them to meet the recommendations that they had been given from the court. I met with each client every two weeks and I worked with them to assess for: needs, strengths, and barriers. From there, we created a case plan to meet the needs that were presented and we took the opportunity to use their time on probation to meet the needs that they had.

[I used] a lot of communication and interviewing skills, working with clients who don't necessarily want to talk with you, and really building relationships with them; really meeting them "where they're at,” and celebrating the "small successes." I definitely used the "strengths-perspective."

What I enjoyed most was seeing youth succeed and get off of probation, and really getting a feel for what they wanted to do with their lives. A lot of times youth came in on the case load very resistant, but by the end, through the relationship we built with them, you're really a team and you're working together.

I'm really interested in the criminal justice system and how kids are being routed into the system, so I want to take my experience forward and try to work with youth in more of a community-building way, to do some preventative measures before they get into the system.

I think that social work is the best major because it looks at every person in a holistic way. It looks at the bio-psycho-social and evaluates what's really going on and meets every person where they're at, individually.

Nora Smyth:

Some exciting things we've done included working on a bill that [was introduced] this session, so we've been able to attend hearings. Going to the Capitol has been really eye-opening and amazing macro-work [practice], in addition to the micro-work we've been doing with our groups. [We’ve had] a lot of opportunities to work in groups, which allowed us to practice the “planned change process” from beginning to end. We also [utilized] a lot of written communication skills… [including] grant writing and fundraising opportunities.

Christine Rintoul:

Working in a prison setting was a really unique way to see the way that macro policies affect the lives of clients on a micro-level. Another interesting thing was applying theory to practice in such a unique context as incarceration. It really offered a lot of practical application of the theory we learned in class.

I used all the skills from our "Communication and Interviewing" class because I had to ask a lot of hard questions. I also got to use professional skills. Working on an interdisciplinary team can be very challenging because every profession has different ethics and a different point of view, so my communication and interviewing skills came in handy when talking with some of my co-workers as well. Using accessible language with families - not using jargon - is a skill that I worked on. I also used a lot of family systems theory to look at what systems are impacting the family's life - both positive and negative - and ways that I could intervene to help the family.

Caitlyn Wright:

One of the things I really appreciated about the placement was that we were given a lot of freedom and a lot of opportunities for leadership. One of the biggest projects that was thought of and executed by the field students was the "flash mob" at the State Capitol. The whole process was really exhilarating.

The other thing that this placement did for me was to show me that this was a possible career path and that it is a social work career path. We hear a lot about the number of clinical and case worker jobs available to social workers, but seeing that you can get a social work degree and do this type of [policy] work and that there are jobs available… It solidified for me that I want to be working with communities.

Christina Reinke:

We worked with several different organizations and with businesses. The way we engaged with people was very different depending on who we were talking to, so we had to learn to change the way that we established relationships with people, depending on their role and our role. A huge part of advocacy, when it gets down to campaigning, is that HOW you educate people is really important. Sometimes we look at issues on a very large scale and they seem too massive to tackle. So we broke things down on a day-to-day basis and that was something that makes the issues feel like you can do something about them. So whether it's calling your legislator, or doing a presentation about minimum wage, or having conversations with your family members or a person in your economics class...THOSE are the things that are huge tools that we don't usually think about and that we used on a day-to-day basis [in this placement].