Social sector as a career in India can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time
Social Science has been keenly working on the dynamics of the processes involved in transforming societies as they embark on the road to development. History shows us that the transformation of any society is a process that diverges from a simple task-oriented process to a holistic development effort. The transformation of any society is structural, complex, continuous and dependent on a host of factors that fuel the change. In a structurally diverse country such as India, development is driven through a management process that requires a deeper understanding of the dynamics of a mixed economy with a plan that is led by populist government policies and intervention. One thing is clear. In development, there is no end game. Transformation is a continuous and cyclical process of change that evolves over a period of time. Let’s take a look at how does the social sector as a career look like.
A full-swing career in the social sector is still a novel concept in India. Over the years, people who have been really passionate about the sector, or wanted to contribute to society in some way, have been associated with the social and development sector. While this is one of the few sectors in the country which is focused on uplifting society, the social sector has hardly been seen as a great career option.
What is Social Work?
Social work is an academic discipline of social sciences and humanities where the main focus is to improve the social structure of society and help the weak and underprivileged people of the community. Social workers work with individuals, families, and communities, and deal with issues related to social empowerment like poverty, unemployment, and education.
A plethora of Job Opportunities in the Social Sector
Horizons have widened and students and young professionals are now able to explore various opportunities including in social work. Universities across the globe are now offering degrees in social work, development studies, and NGO management, that allow students to form a theoretical foundation on which to base a career. One advantage in this sector is that talent is easily recognized, and the chances of moving up the ladder are relatively quicker. Because of this possibility, professionals are able to experience a wider range of roles and responsibilities and, therefore, able to further refine their own goals and aspirations of bringing about effective change in society.
There are others who work with commercial enterprises and then use their valuable expertise to make a difference in the lives of the underprivileged. These professionals build a corpus of funds, establish networks and contacts and then either establish their own NGO or join an existing organization. Their practical knowledge and the money they have saved come in handy. No doubt, salaries in the social sector are not competitive; however, the intangible returns that one receives are priceless
How to get started
Applying for volunteering opportunities or jobs that involve fieldwork is a great way to begin. Getting first-hand experiences will help confirm if you are truly made for and passionate about helping the underprivileged. Additionally, try and find an organization that aligns with your values and vision. If you are unsure about this, try partnering with an organization that has a multitude of focus areas so that you get a variety of opportunities to experience projects across causes and demographics.
There is no right or wrong way to execute philanthropic activities or the correct ‘age’/stage of life to join this sector. What one needs is determination, empathy combined with rationality, and, most of all, patience. Social work is not a hobby or something to pass the time with when no other opportunities are not available. It can be hard and emotionally taxing; the beneficiaries cannot be reduced to data on an Excel sheet. However, all this should not act as a deterrent. The smiles you will encounter, the transformations that you will be able to bring about and the happiness and contentment you feel are second to none.