“Why did you switch to Social Work?”
This is a common question posed to me when I attend job interviews, or generally being asked upon learning of my occupation. The question itself ain’t offensive, I guess it evokes a sense of curiousness (if you know of my previous jobs).
Actually, the intention of being a social worker never crossed my mind when I first graduated from University. Rather, the idea first appeared in my mind during my stint in a digital publishing house. Being involved in customer relation and sales was not what I had wanted, but I tried it anyway. It dawned on to me that I like meeting people – striking up conversations, and best of all, building rapport for a harmonious working relationship.
Yet, around the area I worked, I saw that there are others, in various state of being poor and vulnerable, making a living by collecting cardboard boxes or newspaper, drink cans etc to eke out a barely sustainable living. It made me feel sad, and I wanted to help them, but don’t know how.
Coincidentally, the then MCYS (now MSF), put up a series of advertisements, which provoked strong reactions from the public over the choice of words used. However, it served to stoke my curiousness and I decided to read up on Social Work. Fast forward to attending a career preview talk, I was convinced that this would be my calling. With nothing to lose, I sent in my application and somehow prayed that I will get through it to gain a new job and education opportunity.
In case you do not know, to be a Social Worker, one needs to have either a Bachelor Degree of Social Work, or Graduate Diploma in Social Work as an academic qualification in order to practice Social Work in Singapore. Having said that, I was quite happy to go back to school to gain an additional qualification with UniSIM.
Months flew, and each module of studies were more grueling than the previous one. I did a total of 9 modules: 3 of which are bridging modules (for students with no background in social work) and 6 modules to earn my Graduate Diploma. Of course, there was a mandatory 400 hour supervised practicum that had to be completed as well.
Juggling work and studies at the same time was never easy, and I wished I had the luxury of full time studies! It is indeed an eye opener, and I could not ask for anything else to replace this precious experience.
Social Work has enabled me to cherish what I have and the people around me even more, and also allows me to empower the clients that I worked with. Despite the circumstances that they faced, my clients taught me the spirit of never to give up, even when the tough gets going. I am in awe of their perseverance even when there are odds totally against them. Of course, in some instances, there are difficult clients to work with, but that does not mean giving up on them either.
Though it can be mentally draining and exhausting, the satisfaction is immense especially when the client one has helped had slowly managed to pick up and move on, improving their quality of life with their family and loved ones. Sometimes, encouragement and empowering them is all it takes to give them the much needed push to get back on their feet.
I dare say that I do not know everything about Social Work, as I am still new in the field and learning something new each day. However, I am glad I decided to heed the calling, or I would not be where I am today.
Would you be a social worker someday too?