The Social work Internship Program (SWIP) is a training program designed to give post graduate social work interns an introduction to military social work. This training exposes provisionally licensed active duty social workers to key areas of practice within the social work career field. Trainees rotate through various Army Social Work fields under the tutelage of a supervisor to prepare them for full licensure and operation as an Army Behavioral Health Officer.
The gateway to any military position is through a recruiter. In order to obtain a healthcare profession position, one must contact an AMEDD recruiter.
SWIP typically accepts 4-5 applicants a year. In the 2018 pool of applicants, there were 5 taken out of 90, or roughly 6%. In order to apply, one must put together a comprehensive packet that is reviewed by a board of professionals that rate applicants against each other. Since there isn’t a traditional face-to-face interview, the packet is all essential.
The contents of the packet are directed by the MILPER and the recruiter. The MILPER message acts as a pseudo job announcement and contains vital information required for the packet. The requirements MUST be specifically followed, down to the format of various forms, such as font and spacing. If forms are created in an incorrect manner, they are rejected. The recruiter’s roll is not only to provide information, but also to educate on applying and performing quality checks. Though some tasks may seem asinine, they actually are a preview to life in the military. The foundation to military success is discipline. A standard must be adhered to for intricate missions.
The recruiter will have the applicant fill out a myriad of forms from a background check, to family history, to health questionnaires, etc.. Recruiters are extremely busy and ask the applicant to perform most of the legwork. The recruiter will do more than obtain information from the applicant, they’ll ask the recruit to generate more personalized documents of themselves in the form of a personal statement, CV (resume), and letters of recommendation. Examples of those can be found below. The packet will also need other pertinent items, such as transcripts (GPA less than 3.5 aren’t accepted), professional license, etc.
Bear in mind that a prior service applicants packet will look substantially different, as it will contain a host of military related documents.
Given the competitive nature of SWIP, and my blessing / curse of perfectionism, I put a lot of concentrated effort into my application; likely to the detriment of my self care. However, if something is truly important you make sacrifices and refuse to accept mediocrity.
When I submitted my packet, my recruiter informed me that it had returned with a preliminary result: “Among the best, ascend immediately”. There was still a board and background check process that took about a month, but the level of sophistication I put into my packet, coupled with my observable desire to serve stood out. Meticulous detail and sophistication is what makes a packet stand out against dozens of others. For those considering this highly competitive program, ask yourself how you’ll stand out? Why are YOU the best fit versus others with similar qualifications?
The following forms ascended me to SWIP. Bear in mind, these forms are meant to serve as tools of guidance for aspiring military clinicians. I give no permission for plagiarism and I have removed identifying information from various forms. However, I’m happy to consult to the best of my ability in the comment / or contact form.
Other items that greatly benefited me in my ascension to SWIP were my extracurriculars, my GPA at the University of Utah, and most importantly, my military service. The Personal statement briefly covers some of the extracurricular activities I volunteered for — all of them focused heavily on the military population. During my MSW, I made it a point to focus heavily on the philosophy and application of social work. In doing so, I obtained a 4.0 GPA and was nominated for MSW Student of the Year. These efforts benefited me greatly in my internship practice at a residential substance use house for veterans, and in Outpatient Mental Health at the Salt Lake Veterans Administration. During my military service, I was a nuisance towards my commanders in being becoming the Master Resiliency Trainer, which familiarized myself with the Army’s baseline approach psychological upkeep.
Though not reflected in the packet, one component necessary in this experience is patience and persistence. The Army is a massive system, and many functions must take place prior releasing the Board’s determination. At moments, the recruiter will ask the applicant to quickly turn in an important item. The recruiter may ask you to resubmit an item that was somehow lost. The recruiter may have you scan your fingerprints four times (true story). At other times, there will be weeks to months without update, especially after the Board convenes.
I began my packet process in August of 2017 and had all my documents submitted to the board before the deadline of May 30th, 2018.
The board convened on the 19th of June, and results were shared on July 25th. Between these periods were weekly phone calls to my recruiter asking for results. “try again later” was common response. Try I did.
Hurry up and wait indeed.