You may not have as much one-on-one with your clients when you become the director of a social welfare program, but you still have the satisfaction of knowing that you play an important role in helping them. It helps if you earn an advanced degree like a master’s in social work, public health or business administration. You can get into the field with a bachelor’s degree, but you’ll also need experience. You can earn a promotion to the director’s spot if you display leadership qualities and an in-depth understanding of the organization, the population it serves and its internal policies.
One of your primary roles is to manage the staff and interns at the facility where you work. The program may employ everyone from interns and clerical staff to counselors and case managers. You may be directly involved in hiring new employees and choosing which students perform practicum courses on site. Additionally, you’ll supervise volunteers and perform reviews of their work. You’ll have the responsibility of directing recruiting efforts, granting promotions and terminating employees when necessary.
While you may move into an agency that already has significant programs in place, you’ll periodically review those programs to make sure they’re meeting the needs of the community you serve. You’ll work with other agencies and community organizations to develop new programs and design the plans to implement those new programs.
As director, you’ll be the face of the agency or organization. You represent the organization to community and business leaders by participating in professional associations and community groups. You may also develop, plan and lead fund-raising efforts that could include special events, ongoing donor campaigns and grant writing. You may often speak at events to promote your programs, and you may even have to speak to your local government agencies to lobby for tax-payer funding as needed.
You’ll serve as the liaison for your program and affiliates that serve similar populations. You report to your board of directors if you’re at a nonprofit agency. You’ll want to make sure you don’t duplicate efforts and that you get the appropriate referrals from similar agencies and groups. You may be called on to intervene with clients and social workers, their families, doctors and other counselors. The director is the mediator in all things controversial. In addition to settling internal disputes, you’ll be the one to work with the media when your agency is involved in news and approve press releases about your agency and its programs.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."