School of Social Work launches alumni mentorship program aimed at supporting graduates on their journey to licensure
Each year the Wayne State University School of Social Work is proud to support nearly 450 graduates as they transition from the classroom to the community and advance their social work careers. For the majority of these graduates, tests and stress do not end when they cross the stage. Many of our alum will sit for the social work licensure exam in the hopes of joining the ranks of over 29,000 licensed social workers in Michigan.
As an urban School housed in the heart of Detroit, we work diligently to prepare our diverse student body for social work practice that promotes social justice in a variety of settings ranging from schools to private practice, government and the criminal/legal system, just to name a few. For many of our graduates attaining a position in the competitive job market also involves passing the social work licensure exam. Our commitment to assisting our students through active advising and extensive student support services extends beyond our Midtown campus and continues into their professional careers as alumni.
In fall 2020, the School was proud to launch a new Social Work Mentor Program partnership with the Wayne State Alumni Association to support recent Social Work graduates on their journey towards licensure. The Program paired recent graduates looking to take the licensure exam with seasoned alums who have passed the exam. For mentee Kayla Strong (MSW ’20) who currently works as support coordinator at PsyGenics working with clients with developmental disabilities, the most rewarding part of the program was the relationship she built with her mentors Ashley Kobylasz and Austin Kieffer.
I chose to be a part of this program because it seemed like an awesome opportunity to talk with other social work professionals who have taken the exam and could guide me through the process of creating a study plan and sticking to it. – Kayla Strong, mentee
Throughout the semester-long program, mentors and mentees participated in three virtual workshops led by social work experts to gain a greater understanding of the exam process, how to manage test anxiety and tips on how to prepare to take the exam. Presenters included representatives from the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Board (LARA), WSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), School faculty and recent graduates who passed the exam. Attendees were given the opportunity to reflect on presentations and meet other mentors and mentees at the virtual sessions. “I think this program was effective because it gave me the opportunity to not only connect with my mentors, but also with peers to create study groups and accountability partners,” stated Strong. “Myself and fellow mentees completed weekly study sessions together and even cut down costs of study materials by sharing.”
Mentees were paired with mentors based on their career interests and type of exam they planned to take. This mutually beneficial program provided mentors, including Strong’s mentor Ashley Kobylasz (BA in Psychology ’16, MSW 18’) who currently works as a school based clinician at The Guidance Center’s School Success Initiative Program, the opportunity to give back and share lessons learned.
I remember having so many unanswered questions as a student and feeling very anxious about the licensing exam. I wished that I could connect with people who had taken and passed the exam so I could ask my questions and prepare as much as I could. This program does just that and I was thrilled to be able to help recent graduates lessen their stress by giving them tips and resources in order to help them towards success. - Ashley Kobylasz, mentor
The mentorship relationship extended beyond just exam preparation, with mentors providing guidance, motivation and emotional support to mentees as they also developed a career plan and network of professional contacts. For many participants, the relationship built during this semester will continue long after. “The most rewarding part was having mentors that were super resourceful and supportive. I do plan to stay in touch with my mentors because it is always great to have connections within the field,” noted Kobylasz. “Watching the mentees grow more confident about taking the exam with each session and creating a career plan was incredible to be a part of. I had three mentees in my group and I still keep in touch with all of them. I check in with each of them periodically to ask how their studying is going and I will continue to do so until they take and pass their exams.”
The Social Work Mentor Program was born from a sense of responsibility to our students that extends beyond graduation. Our goal is to nurture the next generation of social work professionals by assisting them in the successful completion of their licensure exam. My hope is that this program continues to grow and connect our alumni community of nearly 14,000 individuals. In addition, we will expand our licensure support offerings – including the option to take practice exams at home – to support our Warrior alumni. – Sheryl Kubiak, Dean and Professor