What's My Career

A Day in the Life of a Social Worker

Specialising in a specific field of work such as support for children and families, working with adults with physical disabilities or mental health related issues, social workers work with different groups of people, oftentimes helping them to make changes and access their rights as people and citizens. In this What’s Your Career Video Series episode, our mentee Imani Pryce, sits with trained Social Worker, Eva Forde to discuss this career field.

Qualities You Must Have to Become a Social Worker

As a social worker, you are expected to be compassionate and caring. Eva remarks that the field of social work is similar to a field in medicine in that social workers attend to the needs of individuals for their well-being. To be a good social worker, you must be kind, thoughtful and patient. You will need to adopt a ‘growers’ mentality and constantly be open to learning and change. Change is inevitable, you will change, your clients will change and your environment will change, which all requires you to be flexible.

How to Become a Social Worker

Enrol in a university that has a social work programme. There is also a 2-year certificate in Social Work course that makes you a pre-practitioner in the field; however, you must complete 4 years to be considered a trained social worker. Social work studies will include courses such as Psychology, Sociology, and clinical courses that teach family dynamics and systems. Volunteerism and internships are also a great way to gain understanding of the hard work that goes into being a social worker. Social work is not just theory but encompasses a lot of practice, visiting clients, travelling to workshops and meetings etc. Even though Eva cannot recall specific scholarships, she encourages students to make themselves attractive. Show up and participate in activities; make yourself available.

Benefits of Being a Social Worker

“Self awareness is a huge benefit associated with this career field, much due to our training.” Eva adds that a social work degree is a leadership degree that offers so much diversity like explanations for behaviours and situations. It helps you to understand how biology works, how biology and sociology work together, it teaches you how to conduct meetings and manage different personalities, how to deal with crises and develop a plan amongst many other life skills.

One Challenge Associated With Being a Social Worker

One of the biggest issues ever faced by social workers is that they come into an industry and immediately face problems in the form of not having adequate training. There are situations that social workers are faced with that no amount of textbook training can prepare them to handle. Though there may be financial challenges associated with the career, Eva also mentions that one’s self is another big challenge as the career introduces you to yourself. 

Resources You Can Access to Grow as a Social Worker

Having observed the struggles students face after studying social work and needing to apply the necessary skills, Eva Forde wrote a book titled, How Not to Practice Social Work which speaks about how to show up and make sure you are well for yourself before you can help anyone else. The New Social Worker is an online magazine that can also be useful to social workers along with Social Workers, Rise! which is a podcast recommended by Forde which tackles burnout, leveraging your degree and many other topics surrounding social work.

Advice for Students

“Don’t wait for admittance into a social work programme. Where are you right now? Get involved. Social work is active in places like victim support units and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security through the PATH programme. It’s also great if you can find mentors in the social work space who can educate you on confidentiality and other lessons learnt through practice.” Eva is a mentor with Link Your Purpose and you can visit linkyourpurpose.com to schedule a talk with her today!

Watch the full interview here

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