What to give a graduating social worker?
May 15, 2006 5:12 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend who has just finished her Masters In Social Work. I am looking for a good graduation gift for her.

I was asking her boyfriend for tips but he blabbed to her,so he's out. I was thinking along the lines of a satchel/bag of some kind or something else quite useful for a social worker. I am looking to spend up to $150 and she is in her late 20's and quite tiny (under 5'4), if that matters. Thanks!
posted by Asbestos McPinto to Shopping (11 answers total)
Before I read the 'more inside' I was thinking some sort of soft leather briefcase. That's what I'd want, for sure.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:24 PM on May 15, 2006

I received two leather satchels/ briefcases for my graduation (also with an MSW coincidentally). The problem is that they are heavy to start with, and if you put some files, a book, or god forbid, a laptop, they are heavier than fuck. And I am a big ole girl. I never carry them. I've opted for vinyl or fabric messenger bags.

It's hard to make a specific recommendation that is "social work" related because there are so many different types of careers within the field. For instance, when I was doing field work in poorer neighborhoods I would have never carried a "flashy" bag or accessories. But now that I am in management, it's completely appropriate.

I recently got a funky business card case, which I like a lot.

With the high burn out rate, often crappy pay, and sometimes thankless work environment that social workers can encounter... maybe a gift certificate to a spa?
posted by kimdog at 5:50 PM on May 15, 2006

Social work? Best bet would be to give CASH - she will need it.
posted by richwise at 6:14 PM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

What richwise said. Or gift certificates (or whatever) to supermarkets and such. A lot of social workers end up supplementing at least some of their clients' benefits with that sort of thing. It may not be a gift she can use, per se, but it's something she can pass on to people who need it most. Double karma points.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:53 PM on May 15, 2006

I got a soft leather briefcase when I graduated. It was really handy for the job interview process. I stood out from other candidates. Since then, I've used it for other interviews and important meetings (and even some lawsuits I launched). It always makes me look professional. I don't use it every day -- it's way too heavy. But it does give the right impression at key times.
posted by acoutu at 8:34 PM on May 15, 2006

Food, money or shelter.
posted by justgary at 9:16 PM on May 15, 2006

Moleskine notebook?
posted by heeeraldo at 9:17 PM on May 15, 2006

Cheaper than you asked for but there's a UK cartoon strip called 'Clare in the Community' which is weekly in the Guardian with central characters who are all social workers. (Also been converted into a Radio 4 show)Some of th jokes will be UK centric but many will still make sense to the American reader - it might appeal to your friend and is perhaps not well known in the US?
posted by biffa at 2:25 AM on May 16, 2006

I would be cautious about a bag, especially if it is the type to be used everyday. I've received a couple of nice leather bags as gifts over the years, but neither has worked out very well for me for various reasons. I've also bought a couple purses for my wife over the years, and none of those has stuck around either. Daily-carry bags are very personal. I've come to believe that they should be picked out by the person that will be carrying them.

If its the type of bag that acoutu describes above (occasional use), this might not be such a concern. Or you might be better at picking out bags/briefcases for other people than me!
posted by gregoryc at 5:24 AM on May 16, 2006

Do you know what kind of social work? My husband is a SW and spends a lot of time in family court where he can not bring large bags into the courthouse and cannot bring food in. I recently got him a little cooler to keep in his car so that he could load it with food on days when he is in court all day. During breaks he can go out to his car and eat food that isn't crap.

If the person is doing home visits, think of things that make life on the go more palatable, like a gift certificate to I-tunes.
posted by archimago at 6:39 AM on May 16, 2006

I'm thinking the people making money suggestions are maybe a little off base. There's a little startup bump before you get your BCSW and other licensure, but even then you're not poor by any means. My mom and her colleagues/friends all have MSWs and all related board certifications, and they all make twice what I do (the one who just got her Ph.D. makes four times what I do) and I'm an intermediate-level systems administrator. I'm sure there are starving MSWs just like there are starving programmers--I have met more than a few starving lawyers, too--but on the whole it looks pretty lucrative from where I am.

My mom's biggest expenses have always been for membership in related professional organizations, field-related books, and journal subscriptions. Most of the books she finds she needs don't seem to be sold via Amazon, though, so that makes book-giving sort of difficult to manage as an idea. If she doesn't already have a copy of the DSM-IV, or if you got her that would be a nice gift. The CD edition comes in right around your price range.

It depends on what field your friend is going into, but all the social workers I know have to do lots of reports for lots of clients, keep them organized and safe, and shuffle them around among various computers, so maybe a gigantic thumb drive would be nice--particularly one with password and encryption options.
posted by littlegreenlights at 6:57 AM on May 16, 2006

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