3 Questions with Jenifer Maloney, LICSW, Therapeutic Mentoring Program Manager

1. Jenifer, was social work your first career choice and what attracted you to the field?

When I was in high school I wanted to be a physical therapist. Thankfully, when I graduated. I delayed going to college. Instead, I entered the work force, where, after volunteering with a youth group and coaching middle school field hockey, I realized that I wanted to work with kids. I got a job at a residential program for teenage girls, and after a short time there I realized I wanted to become a social worker. There are a lot of great things about being a social worker, one of which is that the day-to-day work is always interesting and different.  This is what attracted me to the field and keeps me interested in the work. There are always new things to learn and do. One day I might be working on ways to help our programs improve; the next I may be helping a clinician at a family’s home.

2. Name one thing that you wish more people understood about the professional role and daily work of a social worker?

One thing I wish more people knew about being a social worker is that we need to always be able to adapt and improvise. The work is very demanding, and often we don’t have enough of what we need to do our jobs the way we wish we could. We have to be very creative and resourceful in our work. Every day I see the In Home Therapy and Therapeutic Mentoring teams coming up with low or no-cost ways to get and keep the families and youth we work with engaged in treatment. 

3. Jenifer, how does your social work experience and education guide your work in your current role in the IHT/TM team?

 I was really fortunate early in my career (and now!) to have supervisors and colleagues who took the time to teach and guide me. I truly believe that I would not be in this position today if it were not for those people. My first supervisor at the residential program taught me most of what I know about working with at-risk kids, engaging with parents, and managing staff. Also I have worked with several amazing clinicians who have helped me hone my clinical practice. Like a lot of people, I had to work while going to school and completing my internships. This prepared me for my current role by helping me learn how to prioritize, be efficient, and set realistic goals for myself.