Jesse Littman - MSW Student

Jesse Littman

Interview Questions

What is your practicum role?
I am doing my first MSW practicum placement with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), who recently reopened their office in Missoula in response to a community organizing effort to restart refugee resettlement locally. I work with our caseworker, connecting families with what they need to start their life here --accessing benefits, securing housing, getting their kids enrolled in school and finding jobs.

How do you integrate your classroom learning into your practicum work?
Learning about the different social work perspectives was very helpful. It reminds me to make sure to draw on the strengths of the clients. While driving refugee families to appointments and filling out forms for them may seem easier, it is not sustainable or helping them in the long run. In my role, I try to build on the incredible strength and resilience that has sustained the families on their long journey here.  My policy class is also very linked to my practicum, as I am able to do in-depth research on refugee policy for my class and then utilize that strong foundation and knowledge in furthering my understanding of what it means to work with the refugee population.

How do you see your practicum preparing you for the field?
I have been interested in immigration and refugee issues for a long time, so it was so fortuitous that this work started happening here. In a broader sense, my practicum has helped me gain a better understanding of how social services work, helped me see the barriers faced by certain members of the population, and learn how to effectively confront those barriers.

What have you learned about yourself and your future career interests from this experience?
I have learned I really enjoy being able to work directly with the families and also put that work in a larger context of policy advocacy and community relationship-building. I love that it is possible to do both at the same time.

Advice for students looking for a rewarding practicum?
Be proactive! Last spring, when I found out the IRC was going to be opening an office here, I started emailing their Seattle office right away to see if they would take me on. If there is something you are passionate about -- do all you can to experience in that area.