Having spent five weeks at Frontline’s Summer Institute with people from hugely diverse backgrounds, I remain convinced that there is no typical social worker. If you’re thinking about this as a potential career path, that’s as good a reason as any to give it a try. There is no doubt though, that being an empathetic, open-minded, problem-solving kind of person will certainly put you in good stead.
My own story doesn’t seem to be any more or less typical than the other career changers on the course. I was working in the media, doing a job I loved, but I wasn’t sure which direction my life should head in. I was made redundant and that actually gave me the opportunity to take stock and reassess what I should do next.
On a whim, I searched for “social work training” and Frontline popped up. I’d had a pretty tough childhood myself and I’m sure it remains part of the reason why I was so drawn to it. Not everyone who is a great social worker needs to have first-hand experience of the situations they will encounter in their job, but it can be a really powerful way into empathy if you do.
I honestly didn’t expect to get all the way through Frontline’s recruitment process and to be able to train as a social worker. It is tough, but then so is the job that you’re going to do at the end of it, so don’t let that put you off.
I’m now less than one week away from starting my local authority placement and the nerves haven’t quite kicked in yet. My biggest fears are more about managing the workload alongside the practical training than doing the job itself, but I’ve been really reassured by speaking to members of the previous year’s cohort.
The Summer Institute really whets your appetite and by the end of it you’re very eager to start applying some of the theory to real life situations (rather than hypothetical case studies in the classroom). It’s also a great opportunity to bond with and get to know other members of your unit and I already feel hugely invested in those I’ll be working alongside.
Time has flown by and I’m sure the year ahead will too. It certainly doesn’t feel like that long ago I was questioning if I was capable of even getting through the recruitment process and here I am about to start my placement. Who knows, maybe you’ll be part of the next cohort and I’ll be the one reassuring you that you’ll make it through the year just fine. I wish you the best of luck!