Job Dreams: Social Worker
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As part of our Job Dreams series, we speak to professionals from different careers and share their advice with you. Last month, we learned what it's like to be a psychiatric nurse. This month, we met Gemma, who told us all about being a social worker…
Tell us a brief summary about you, and your background, and how you got to where you are today:
Growing up in a deprived area in inner city Manchester, I witnessed a lot of social injustice. This led me to wanting a career in which I could contribute to my community and help people who are facing adversity. After college I worked in the care sector as a support worker, before returning to higher education, to gain my joint degree in Learning Disabilities Nursing and Social Work. Following this, I decided that my skill set and passion would be better suited to Social Work.
What do you do?
I’m a qualified social worker within adult services. My work primarily focuses around working with adults with learning disabilities.
Can you tell us what your day-to-day is like?
My tasks can vary greatly each day, depending on the needs of the people within my caseload, such as; making referrals, liaising with other organisations, legal proceedings and managing services.
What do you love most about your job?
That I contribute to making positive change in vulnerable peoples lives. I have the opportunity to meet a diverse range of people from a variety of backgrounds, which is thoroughly compelling.
What do you find most challenging?
Finding suitable resources that are catered to the needs of the individual, within area and within budget. This can sometimes be quite difficult but it is incredibly rewarding when you manage to find a suitable solution.
What did you see yourself doing when you were a kid?
Like a lot of young girls, I dreamt of being a pop star. I was obsessed with Madonna and Kylie. Then I soon realised that I couldn’t sing, so that would most likely not be a possibility! I decided I wanted to do a job which involved helping people. I did not know quite what that was, or what I needed to do in order to achieve this. It took me quite some time to figure that out. I think some people know straight away, and for others, it just takes some time and exploration.
What challenges did you face in reaching where you are today?
Early in the second year of my degree, I became hospitalised due to a rare autoimmune illness, and was placed in an induced coma for almost a month. This put my life on hold for a year as I recovered, before returning to university to start the second year all over again.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I would like to become a practice educator. It would be great to help guide and support students.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first left school?
That anything is possible, if you have the right guidance and support. I felt that career advice was really lacking when I left school. I don’t think it’s like that now. Young people have so much more support with helping them navigate through their career path, which is amazing!
What advice would you give to someone interested in joining your industry?
Get as much work experience as you can possibly get. If that is paid or voluntary work. Experience is key.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve been given?
Keep asking questions, avoid jargon and keep learning!
What quote do you live by?
“You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” - Maya Angelou