Where Passion Meets Profession

Written by: Vanessa Tifa, Program Supervisor for Community Services

When I was in college working towards my undergraduate degree, something drew me towards social work. I knew I wanted to help people and use my own experiences to relate to others. Giving back to the community has been at the forefront of my mind for as long as I can remember, and that passion drew me to COMPASS. I have been working at COMPASS for 8 years (9 in November) and I have spent my entire career here. Starting as a Family Specialist and then a Family Clinician, I am now a Program Supervisor for approximately 10 supervisees that I oversee and support. COMPASS and its staff have helped me grow personally and professionally, and I hope to be able to help those entering their careers at COMPASS do the same.

Reflecting upon my time here, certain highlights stand out among all of my experiences. The first one that comes to mind is my first case. Being assigned my own case was a big moment for me, despite the significant challenges I went through during that time as a new Family Specialist with little prior experience, and it ended up being very successful. Another highlight was going back to school to get my master’s degree and becoming a Family Clinician. I appreciate the new lens that this degree gave me, as I am now able to see things from a more therapeutic and clinical perspective. Finally, the most prominent highlight was becoming a Program Supervisor. This step signaled my continued professional development, and I am so happy to be filling this role.

Among all of the highlights have arisen unforgettable memories. From staff bonding at holiday parties and boat cruises to the relationships I’ve developed with families, COMPASS has given me the opportunity to make connections with some amazing people. I have also had the chance to learn important lessons about this line of work, and would like to pass on some tips to those entering the social work world:

  1. Self-care is very important. I really value self-care and practice it through exercise and vacations (or, preferably, staycations!). Taking care of yourself is a necessary step in being able to help others.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up. There are going to be times where it is important not to take things personally and blame yourself.
  3. It is okay not to know things. Asking questions and being eager to learn are more important than knowing everything. Use your resources when you need them – your coworkers and supervisors are there to help. If you feel that you need to go back to school, then go for it!

These are just some of the things that I think are important for caseworkers and social workers to remember. During my time at COMPASS, I have felt so much support from my “higher-ups” who motivate me to be a better person and professional, and I hope to be able to give that back to my supervisees. I aspire to push, challenge, and motivate them to be a better version of themselves as well. A strong team of staff makes for a strong company, and our staff are a huge asset here at COMPASS. Everyone that works at COMPASS is passionate about their work and that is what makes us such a strong team. I truly can’t see myself anywhere other than at COMPASS.

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