Interested in both direct and macro social work practice? Me too!

Though direct and macro practice social work are very different fields, I have found myself interested in both worlds, especially the intersection between providing mental health services and all of the policies that can complicate service provision. At the UNC School of Social Work, students take a combination of both classes in the foundation year and then chose a concentration in the second year, either direct or macro practice (officially called Community, Management and Policy Practice). I chose the direct practice route, but have found ways to pursue my macro interests as well.

One of the ways I gained macro social work skills was through an internship at Action for Children North Carolina last summer ( Action for Children’s mission is to educate and engage all people across the state to ensure that North Carolina’s children are health, safe, well-educated and have every opportunity for success. Too good to be true? Listen to these children tell you how this organization has changed our state…

While at Action for Children, I worked on data and advocacy projects. One of their main campaigns this summer was called “Raise the Age,” an effort to raise the age that youth can be charged with a misdemeanor crime in the adult criminal justice system from 16 to 18. On this initiative I was able to attend a state-wide lobby/advocacy day, work on projects for legislators, attend press conferences and legislative hearings, participare in community meetings and conferences, and hear from national experts on these issues. My experience at Action for Children expanded my understanding of how high-stakes policy decisions are made, as well as contextualized some of the struggles I have seen in direct service provision for youth in our state. For more info on Raise the Age, check out



About Julia Wessel

Hi! I'm Julia Wessel and I am a concentration year student in the full time program. I am focusing on direct practice with an emphasis on child mental health. This year, my field placement is at child outpatient mental health clinic with children and their families. I am also very involved in the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) Clinic, a weekly, student-run, free health clinic in the community. I also travelled to India with UNC-CH SSW on a study abroad trip in December 2011. I am originally from Washington, DC and I went to Kenyon College for my undergraduate education. In my free time, I love hiking and yoga and exploring North Carolina.
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