By Paul R. Pace
NASW, with the help of student leaders across the country, has launched a new online community devoted to social work student members of the association.
MyNASW Student Community launched earlier this year, and it’s off to a great start, says Jessica Riley, the student intern at the NASW Texas Chapter who spearheaded the effort.
“One thing that I felt was powerful for every NASW member was the MyNASW All Member Forum,” Riley said. The member-only platform offers an opportunity for social workers across the nation to network with other members in a private community supported by NASW’s Code of Ethics. While there are a number of dedicated communities on the platform, it lacked a devoted student space, she says.
Riley devised the idea of launching an online forum in MyNASW solely for social work student members. The plan was supported from start to finish by her supervisor, Will Francis, executive director of NASW-Texas, as well as NASW national office employees Jennifer Watt, director of membership, and Marie Lewis, senior membership associate.
“Connection to trusted peers is one of the greatest benefits of association membership,” Watt said. “The colleagues you meet through NASW can be your network of support throughout your career. They can link you to resources and opportunities—and also become your friends.”
NASW student members from seven chapters volunteer as community ambassadors.
“The reason we made this is, it is a student safe space,” Riley said. “The experience of a social work student is different than a social work professional. It's a different perspective. We are asking different questions. A lot (of the questions) are about field and practicum. We have a lot of questions about grad school.”
She notes the forum is a place where students can engage and ask questions without judgment. “It allows the needs and interests and questions that student members have to be asked of other students.”
NASW student members automatically have access to the MyNASW Student Community as part of their membership. There are more than 14,000 student members.
Participants have been grateful for the space, Riley says. “It meant a lot to myself and the rest of my team that it was appreciated and that folks are using it as envisioned.”