Placements as Immersive as Jobs: Current Student Gadria Conlan

When current student Gadria Conlan (she/her) began her first-year internship at a residential treatment program for male adolescents last year, she had a unique perspective on the role. That’s because, prior to starting at Smith College School for Social Work, Conlan spent a year working in direct care at a similar facility for teenage girls. It changed how she thought about her clinical work.

“I was with the girls – I was in one of the cottages,” she said, helping them with homework and daily living tasks and accompanying them to outside activities. “You're definitely in it. You're there, you see a lot of what’s going on, sometimes more than the clinicians see.”

Gadria Conlan smiles at the camera.

Conlan took this insight with her into her first-year social work placement, remaining mindful of the fact that the limited time she spent with clients also limited how comprehensively she could know them. “I did residential for two years,” she said. “I was grateful I got to experience both ends.”

Conlan was attracted to the field after a positive childhood experience being in therapy, combined with the fact that social work degrees can lead to many different career paths.

“I think there's just more avenues and more opportunities. Why pigeonhole myself into doing one thing if I can gain the knowledge to help my clients in other ways, too?” Conlan said. “There also might be resourcing and advocacy that comes with it.”

She was drawn to Smith by the fact that the School’s low-residency structure makes its placements as immersive as jobs. “You feel much more a part of the agency that you’re working with for the entire year,” she said. SSW also already felt familiar; her cousin and her sister are both alums.

After completing her second summer on campus, Conlan is excited to delve into a placement at a private practice in the Hudson Valley. At its start, she was already learning how to navigate the world of referrals, phone consultations and intakes.

“I think about how I would like to do private practice, so it’s nice to be able to have an opportunity in the M.S.W. grad school period to explore that,” she said.

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