If someone were to ask me what an average day at Frontline resembles, I would struggle to give them an adequate answer. The life of an intern is rarely the same one day to the next. I’ve carried out research into social issues, tackled qualitative and quantitative data projects and planned the logistics of upcoming events. My time has been varied, but more importantly, I’ve been able to make meaningful contributions to Frontline and this gives the role a sense of purpose.
Research has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job, enhancing skills I already possessed, whilst developing others that were relatively undeveloped. A particular highlight was an investigation into men in the social sector, focussing on the shortage of men in social work in particular, where they represent just a quarter of the workforce. In my humanities degree, exposure to IT is minimal and this has always been a personal weakness. Yet, through various data projects and the need to report my findings in an engaging but accessible way on different software; I now feel that a former limitation has been developed into a strength.
I was fortunate enough to attend a mock unit meeting in my first week, delivered by the consultant specialists on the programme. Frontline participants have these unit meetings on a weekly basis, where four social workers and their consultant social worker discuss the different cases they are handling at the time.
The unit meeting helped me gain an insight into the day-to-day life of a social worker and we were led through a real-life scenario involving a vulnerable child within a difficult family situation. Working together as a unit, making informed deductions and having the confidence to voice observations helped us get to grips with the complications of child protection. Mock unit meetings are attended by all Frontline head office staff as part of their induction, and this demonstrates how the organisation never loses sight of its purpose.
The most rewarding aspect of the role has been direct interaction with social workers and professionals involved in the sector. I have attended numerous workshops and insight days put on by Frontline specialists, increasing my awareness about the profession and de-mystifying previously held assumptions. We often think that the work of social workers involves taking young people into care, but after hearing the experiences of social workers, you quickly realise that only courts have this power and the role of a social workers is far more complex and nuanced.
A Frontline participant in the final year of the programme came into the offices in my second week and I spoke to them about the impact of local authority cuts on their job. It was eye opening to hear about the challenges that social workers face in the field because of the scarcity of public resources available to support the most vulnerable in communities. This made me reflect on the value of social workers and their importance to society.
The atmosphere and ethos of Frontline is striking and from the start you are made to feel like a valued member of the team. Frontline’s mission – to transform the lives of vulnerable children – is written on the office walls and it was clear to me that the work of everyone in the organisation is focussed towards this goal. You soon get to know everyone in this dynamic charity and the internship offers you projects with different departments. A lot of my work for instance, was with the External Relations team reviewing Frontline’s social media strategy. I soon forgot that I was interning with the Recruitment team, because I felt like a member of the whole charity working together to help Frontline succeed. Even the suspect cookies I made for the office Bake Off were overlooked and everyone politely ate the raw spheres of dough I tried to pass off as edible.
After three weeks, I feel more aligned to the values of Frontline than ever before. If you enjoy a challenge, working with an amazing team and learning more about social work, then you should look no further than the Student Internship.
Applications for our student internships open on 29 January 2018.