I am currently surrounded by what seems like a sea of assignments and surviving off of the caffeine running through my veins. It has not been an easy week to say the least.
There will be times where you’ll be so overwhelmed with assignments, work, life and the amount of tabs open on your screen that you’ll start to question why you’re doing what you’re doing. In these moments I’ve found that the only thing that keeps me from giving up is my dream of being a social worker.
Social work is one of those career pathways that everyone ‘sort of’ knows what it is, but ‘sort of’ don’t. The common depiction of social workers is that they’re the heartless people who take children away from their parents. They’re the ones who bring the bad news. On the other extreme people may view social workers as people who work as martyrs to help save people in poverty for very little pay. The low pay is true, the other stuff not so much.
According to the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW), social work is a “profession that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.” Yes, it is broad and a little bit confusing. Essentially social workers walk alongside and advocate for people during tough times. Our job is to empower people and assist them to become autonomous.
Social work is a very broad profession. You can work in many different sectors such as: health, justice, community, children and family, education, and business among other things. These areas in which social workers practice can sometimes overlap. To give you a better picture, a social worker in the health sector can work at Starship Children’s Hospital. They may be involved in walking alongside a family whose child is diagnosed with an illness. As a social worker you could help them by referring them to a support group, finding them financial assistance and making sure they have the resources to deal with the changes. Working at Starship would mean holding knowledge about the health sector as well as working with children and families. Another social worker may work within the community, advocating for better living conditions. This may lead to involvement with politics. Studying social work can lead to other career pathways such as counseling, psychology, teaching and corrections. The variety of options are endless within the social work profession.
I knew I wanted to be a social worker before I even truly knew what it was. I was 12 years old. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to help people (children especially), but I didn’t know how. I originally wanted to work in the medical field as a doctor until I released you had to study cadavers (I don’t do well with blood lol). Then I volunteered at a children’s foster care event; that changed my whole world. Seven years has past and I’ve definitely learned a lot more about social work since then.
I chose to be a social worker because I want to empower people, battle social injustice and create a positive difference. Everyone I have met taking a Bachelor’s in Social Work entered into the profession for similar reasons. I definitely didn’t go into social work for the money, if you can’t tell, social workers are really under payed. In fact, a lot of people discouraged me from pursuing social work because of the low income, but my passionate hard head didn’t care. I do, however, care that there are families unable to afford housing, children going to bed on empty stomachs and people fleeing their homes because of war and persecution.
I want to be a social worker because everybody needs help sometimes. I long to help people see their strengths when they can only see their weaknesses. I want to lend my ears to those who have no one else. I yearn for people to see their potential and worth when they may have been told otherwise. I want to help provide families with necessary knowledge and resources to flourish. I desire to give marginalized people a voice. I chose social work because I am motivated by the belief that by empowering one person at a time it becomes a ripple effect into the world.
That is my ‘why.’
If you want to learn more about the BSW at UoA: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/study/study-options/find-a-study-option/bachelor-of-social-work-bsw.html
If you want to feel inspired: http://confessionsofabanshee.com/what-it-really-means-to-be-a-social-worker/