"Without my social work master’s degree, I would not be able to do a job that gives me such a huge amount of job satisfaction"
I had graduated in sociology and Criminology in 1996 and at the time, I was working with young people in Manchester. I wanted to pursue a career in working with children and young people but felt I needed to get further training for better job prospects. My then-manager advised that the social work training was likely to open more doors for me and so, after much deliberation, I applied for the MA course.
Having my social work qualification has opened many doors for me: social work is a huge sector and there are many different areas of specialism. I really enjoyed the law and social policy modules, which felt very applicable to a future career in social work. Early in my career, I had chosen to specialise in working with children and the placements that I did during the course really helped give me gain experience and develop my interests. I did two placements throughout my training, one with a young person's substance misuse service and one on a childcare social work team. Both placements were invaluable opportunities to put into practice the skills that I had gained during my MA studies.
I worked part-time at the Children Society while at university, and then moved to a full-time role supervising young people on a bail support programme, after graduating. Over the last 10 years, I have specialised in child mental health services. I now also work independently as a children's therapist, trainer and consultant (www.northwestchildrenstherapy.co.uk) and I am the editor for the British Association of Play Therapists magazine (www.bapt.info). Without my social work master’s degree, I would not be able to do a job that gives me such a huge amount of job satisfaction.
Alongside the knowledge I gained during my social work degree, the most important skill that I developed was my communications skills - which are central to my current role. Good written and verbal communication skills are essential when working with children, families and professionals. On a daily basis it is essential that I communicate effectively with a variety of individuals and groups -adapting my use of language according to the individual and the situation.
Be flexible, creative and determined. Look for opportunities during your time at university to develop your skills and experience - this maybe working on a voluntary basis or joining university groups.
Senior Lecturer Debra Hayes and Adele Jones, who to this day I still remember particularly because of their encouragement and support.
I went to the Didsbury campus, which was very friendly and welcoming! The course was really interesting and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to do work placements.