Category Archives: interviews

From student to Professional

Well its that time already, the 100 days placement has passed and the social work student I had in placement with our team has finished.  It was a sad for the team, and for me! I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge and seeing the development.  I have also enjoyed being challenged (in a positive way) about some of my decision making from a learning perspective.  It has certainly helped having a competent student on placement with us and I have wondered over the past few months how I would have been able to support a more inexperienced student.  The reality is with the work load pressure, and increasing monitoring checks and high risk meetings and other social work tasks, I could not have given any more time.

I would like to say well done to all students who have just completed their course or will be soon.  It is not an easy subject to study.  No right or wrong answers, just the obvious if you miss the point you wont do well.  This does reflect true life when working with families.  If you do not get to the right dilemma, issue then every thing you do after that first visit is a waste of time.

For many social work students and even qualified staff the current issue is finding work.  Work is out there with many teams still holding agency social workers.  However, experience is still preferred and essential when carrying out complex assessments and managing your case load. Support is needed to ensure that Newly Qualified workers can find work and work in relevant social work teams.

But as a student what can you do to get experience? working with the client group you are interested in helps, voluntary work, agency work such as residential work, supervised contact  is always good and trying to find unqualified posts are also a good way to gain experience. All of which needs to sold on your application form and linked to the criteria that is being asked for in the application form.

The other challenge is the interview once you have an interview don’t rely on your charm and smile alone.  Please research the field you are applying for.  Understand the legislation and how it affects practise, keep up to date with current issues affecting the area you want to work.

As social work continues to go through changes, viscous cut backs, and attacks from the media as mistakes are highlighted causing further tension and strain.  Social Workers are left taking the strain and pressure of increased demand and lack of time to spend with each individual person.  So support is needed, real understanding is needed from the government and passed to each Local Authority to provide trust and confidence to allow for development within social work both for newly qualified social workers and also experienced staff to ensure that social work practise does not become complacent.

So I wish my student good luck and hope she enjoys the challenges social work brings, I look forward to working with you again as a colleague.

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First job

Have you ever wondered what your first social work job would be like? I know that I did.  I remember finishing my training and having to return to work after two years of not being in the residential home.  All of the staff and the young people had changed, my views on practise had changed and my willingness to work shifts had gone out of the window.  My sleep was becoming prescious due to my two young children demanding more of my time.

I was lucky in looking for work as I live on the border of four Local Authority’s and two Unitary Authority’s.  The time it took to get work was an important factor in deciding where I wanted to work so this cut some prospects out.  I applied online with all Authority’s and then just waited to here.   I don’t mind admitting that it felt like a very long time.

It was like Christmas when the envelope finally landed on my doorstep, and it was very nearly Christmas to.  My knees shaked and my hands trembled as I opened the envelope and read its contents.   There was a hope that I could escape shift work and return to hours that meant that I could still spend quality time with my own family.  By this time I had slotted back into working in my old job and I knew it was going to be hard saying good bye to the  people that I had worked with for 8 years.  I also knew that I was becoming to comfortable in that Job and if I did not move on I never would.

I should say that the interview process scared me, it had been nearly 8 years since my last interview.  Then to see that I had a whole day’s worth of interviewing, with testing, group work exercises and interviews did worry me.

However, I was pleased when I finished the process feeling confident.  I was even more pleased when I was accepted in post, I think I was so excited that I told the business support worker I was speaking with that I loved them! (probably at that time I did, I was so pleased).  Especially as it meant my journey time to work was going to be reduced, and there was an added bonus of parking something that was very essential for me.

As a nearly qualified social worker I did not have to worry whether I was going to be a social worker in a child protection team or a Looked after team or even a child in need team.  The reason, it was still a generic team covering all fields.  Meaning I could develop my weaknesses as I gained in experience.

Social Work is never that easy, you must know that? A week in the job and I am told that we would all be going through “Growth and Change”.  It was to quick for me to decide, which team I wanted to work in with little experience in Child Protection and all of my previous experience in LAC I did not want to specialise to early.  So I went with Child Protection, wanting to work with a much younger age group than I had previously worked with.

Child Protection was a daunting experience to head towards as a newly qualified social worker.  When I started it was like a whole different world, I did not know anyone in the office, I did not know the area I was working in.  I had only been there twice before once for the interview and once shopping on  a bus!

However, for me it did not become that scary or daunting.  The home visits, the core group meetings, and Child Protection conferences became a positive challenge to achieve positive change for families.  Sometimes when the risk became to high the court process was initiated, but even this did not worry me as I worked in an open and honest fashion.  Although giving evidence is never easy and with your heart pumping you can understand how the people you work with may feel, when seeing me at their doorstep.

Would I change the path that I have gone down? No! Child Protection has given me a good understanding or risk, understanding working together in its truest form.  I understand how precious life is and fragile it can be when a referral is made.  I have learnt how hard some people struggle to break out and change everything they know.  Especially when they lack the support from their own friends and family.  Something I have always taken for granted in my own life.

Alot has changed since my first day, I now know everyone and everyone knows me.  I know the community and how the different groups interact.  I know most of the professionals and joint working has become easier.  The only thing that has not changed is the love of the job and the challenges and support that children and their families need has not.