I am in my third year at UNC’s School of Social Work as a Triangle Distance student, which means I have merged with the full-time second year students and am working on my concentration courses. I am getting the Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and, I have to say, these are not the courses I thought I’d be taking when I first enrolled at UNC. First of all, I’m taking Nonprofit Law. In the law school. With law students. I majored in Political Science in undergrad, so the class isn’t totally out of my league; however, after two years of round-table, discussion-based classes with fewer than 20 students, going back to a lecture-style format with over 50 students felt a little intimidating. (I’m taking so many notes!) I was relieved to find that about half of the class is made up of graduate students from disciplines other than law, including public administration, public health, and education. Also, the professor has done a great job so far of helping those of us who are new to this kind of coursework navigate the new vocabulary. The opportunity to engage in cross-disciplinary learning is really exciting, and it’s great to see how one course can apply to so many career fields.
Speaking of courses that apply to other fields, I am also taking a marketing and fundraising course. I have never studied anything like this before, but it is critical knowledge for social workers who want to work in macro. In fact, I was talking to some UNC SSW grads last week (who had graduated before the nonprofit leadership certificate existed) and they were excited to see that these kinds of courses were available to students. They noted that those kinds of skills are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s nonprofit market. I feel better about entering a shaky job market knowing that my degree covers such a wide range of knowledge that I can apply to my work.