Jen Barile - MSW Agency Field Instructor

Jen Barile

Interview Questions

Title: Resettlement Director, International Rescue Committee

Education: Bachelors in Women’s Studies from State University of New York, Masters of Social Work from University of Montana

What do you appreciate most about supervising practicum students?
I really appreciate the fact that students are actively engaged in critical thinking and bring a critical eye to the program. They bring their fresh knowledge to the agency, which keeps us on our toes.

What does being a social worker mean to you?
Being a social worker is about serving people in a variety of ways, making sure we approach people with a wide lens, and working with a holistic practitioner model while making sure we are thinking about what systems are in place. Most importantly, it is about meeting people in the stage of change they are in, allowing them to be the driving force behind the change they want while keeping their autonomy.

How does your role as a social work relate to your role as a supervisor?
I went through the MSW program at the University of Montana, which I feel gives me a unique perspective. Because of this, I have a good grasp on what is expected from the program and can make sure I keep the students on track to achieve the learning objectives put forth by the program. Also, I am very understanding of the students’ need to explore all aspects of the agency. Plus, all the skills learned while becoming a social worker; communication, empathy and understanding; transfers over to help me be a good supervisor.

What skill/ability/point of view do you hope your practicum students take with them to their careers?
Confidence- Social workers have to make really hard decisions, and being able to practice making those decisions, and having the difficult conversations that go along with them, will help them have the ability to do the same in their next job. I hope they also remember that clients are the experts of their lives, which is why it is so important for us to let them be the driving force in their change process.

Do you have any words of wisdom or final thoughts?
Remember you are paying for this education, and the practicum is part of that. Be vocal about what you want to learn, or do, so you can get the most out of your practicum.