It took some time for me to realise that I wanted to pursue a profession in social work. All of the qualities and values that I admire are at the heart of social work. The fact that social work offers such a varied range of opportunities also appealed to me. Plus, the fact that it seeks to make the world a better place. This meant that I could contribute my part to improving people’s lives.
What kind of impact do you want to make on people’s lives?
I aspire to be able to help protect people’s human rights and needs, especially those who are the most vulnerable in society. I want to be the person that people can turn to when they don’t feel they have anyone else. Also, I want to be able to speak up for individuals who don’t have a voice, advocate for them, and make a difference for them.
What advice would you give to any A-level or BTEC students about their studies?
I’d advise you to do some research on the kinds of careers you’re interested in and think about what drives you. Think about your values and motivations and see if they align with the professions you are considering. Before deciding to pursue a career in social work, I investigated the testimonies of former social workers to see how they felt about the field. This opened my eyes as to what to expect.
I would advise you not to compare your skills and knowledge with those of others. We all have different strengths and capabilities and there’s room for all students to collaborate and bring something to the table. To begin with, I was concerned that because I had been out of education for so long, I would not be able to do as well as others. The expectation is that you will not know everything immediately, so don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know. The lecturers at York have been extremely helpful, particularly during the challenging past year for a variety of reasons.
What advice would you give to these students about: a) getting relevant work experience; and b) about developing the right skills and knowledge for social work?
I would suggest looking for volunteer opportunities that are related to your field of study. I have reached out to non-profit organisations that are looking for volunteers to raise money and make a difference. Social work offers so many different routes that it is important to me to try and volunteer with a multitude of organisations and this I know will help me when I come to make my decision with what route I would like to take.
Take a moment to consider what you’re good at and what skills you have. Concentrate on them and try to figure out which ones you’re having trouble with and how you can get better at them. I would say that when I have struggled with certain skills, I have tended to shy away from them and avoid using them. However, this past year I have really made an effort with my time management (something I have really struggled with in the past). I have taken a small amount of time every week to plan my work, and this has made a huge difference to my work and to my emotional wellbeing.
What have you enjoyed the most about the course so far?
I’ve loved learning about the various topics, and it’s given me a better understanding of how many individuals require support and assistance. Problem-solving, cooperation, and time management are some of the skills I’ve enjoyed developing. I’ve made friends that are motivated to make a difference because of taking this course. This course has also taught me a lot about myself, and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on where I can improve both personally and professionally.
Has anything surprised you?
I was surprised at how quickly I gained confidence with assignment writing after being out of education for a long time. This was due to attending lessons in helping with assignment writing and planning my work way ahead of time which really boosted my confidence.
Has your understanding of social work changed since you started the course and if so, how?
After completing my first year of the course, I am certain that social work is the right fit for me. I was concerned before the course began that academically I would struggle, but with the assistance of the lecturers, it has become something I enjoy doing. I am still aware of the difficulties and challenges I am likely to face in the field of social work, but I know the rewards and outcomes will far outweigh any difficulties I may face.