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How Social Work Can Fit Into the Business World

As a direct result of Baylor’s MBA program partnering with other schools across campus to create truly unique dual degree options, many students who would otherwise never thought to seek an MBA suddenly find themselves at a very unexpected intersection of business and divinity, law, engineering, and other areas of study. We asked Baylor MBA/MSW student Anna Beard to share a bit of her perspective about the intersection of business and social work at which she has so unexpectedly arrived. 

Hi, my name is Anna Beard, and I am a current MBA/MSW student here at Baylor. I graduated with my MSW degree in May 2020 and I’m now a Core 1 student in the MBA program and plan to graduate from the Hankamer School of Business in May 2021. My undergrad in Social Work is from Baylor as well. Having a solely social work background, I often get the question, “Why an MBA? How could that possibly help you help people?”

“Not only did I see a need for business skills in the social work world, but I also saw a need for social work skills in the business world.”

Well, my journey to this point started the Fall semester of my senior year during a conversation with my internship supervisor regarding documentation needed. She asked me to basically help her create a financial log detailing everything we have done over the course of the semester and the money we have spent to provide our services to students in the school district. It was in that moment that I realized that I had no business knowledge whatsoever and had no idea how to complete the task I was being given. This made me freak out a little in that I would not be prepared for the real world without some sort of business knowledge. Through both my foundation internship and my advanced-standing internship, I realized that business skills are critical to running successful programs and organizations. I saw the need for financial literacy through budgeting, the need for accounting knowledge through grant writing, and finally, realizing the importance of being good stewards of what we are given through the state and local governments, donations, and grants. I saw that there was a gap here between the worlds of business and social work that needed to be filled. So, I decided I wanted to continue my education another year and tack on an MBA to my resume.

To learn more about the importance of business skills in social work, check out this article featuring Baylor MBA/MSW alum Zeke Morgan titled: Experience a Day in the Life of a Nonprofit/Government Social Worker.

Not only did I see a need for business skills in the social work world, but I also saw a need for social work skills in the business world. People with backgrounds not just in social work, but a variety of other personal disciplines, bring a unique person-centered approach to the work force. A large part of what we do deals with making sure that everyone has a voice, bringing diversity into meetings, conflict resolution skills, how to work with difficult people, and so many other important skills that lead to a successful experience in the working world. We learn how to communicate with our clients and co-workers and superiors, we learn how to work with clients of any background imaginable, and we learn how to handle crisis situations need they arise. In my graduate internship, I saw firsthand what a lack of communication skills and a lack of personal skills, as well as a focus on numbers rather than the people can do to helping professionals, solidifying the need to integrate business and social work into one degree plan.

Anna celebrates pending MSW graduation with fellow MSW candidates.

When one thinks of a dual degree in higher education, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not business and social work. To be completely honest, I did not even know how realistic this degree would be either when I first started debating it. What I have come to learn, however, is that the two complement each other more than I could have ever pictured. The diversity in our cohort, the conversations both in the classroom and outside of the classroom, as well as the learning opportunities from professors have made me realize that I made the right decision. My experiences and perspectives that I bring in have given me an opportunity to ask deeper questions, as well as the opportunity to learn from people who do not have the same passions or career goals or educational experiences as I do. Thus far, it has given me experience in working with and around differing personalities and differing backgrounds.

Another thing that I have come to learn and appreciate about the Baylor MBA program is how they value training students to be leaders in the workplace. At Baylor, it is not a question of whether or not you’ll be in charge someday. Whether it’s managing people, financials, social programs, or an organization or corporations… it’s a matter of when you will be in charge. Out of the five classes I am taking this semester, three of them are teaching the importance of communication, how to build professional relationships, how to be good managers someday, and so many other interpersonal skills tailored to the working world. I am excited to continue my education in this program, and I am eager to see the doors that the Baylor MBA Program will open, as well as the experiences and learning opportunities that will shape me.

Baylor MBA has a number of dual degree options including social work, divinity, law, engineering, and information systems. Interested in learning more? Click here for more information about any of our dual degree options and concentrations within the MBA. 

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