Transcripts: Social sector interview
What is the social sector?
CARA: The social sector refers to social and economic services that aim to benefit society. People in the sector might work with young people, adults, families or individuals. There are roles in areas like aged care, disability, mental health, and youth work… and also those that tackle issues like homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, and addiction. It’s a broad industry incorporating a lot of different things, but it basically involves working with and helping ordinary people, something I believe is crucial to society.
What kind of jobs are in the social sector?
CARA: There’s a wide range of jobs in the social sector – so you’ve definitely got options. If you’re passionate about making change and advocating for new laws and legislation, you might want to consider working as a policy officer. Or, if you prefer to work with people and are interested in helping them directly, you could look at getting into social work or counselling. In any of these roles you could be working for the government or local councils, schools, not-for-profits, hospitals, and more!
How did you get into the social sector? What did you study at university?
CARA: Well, after secondary school I started working as a Youth Support Assistant and my manager encouraged me to do a Cert III in Community Services at the local TAFE. Uni wasn’t really on my radar until my cousin became the first one in my family to do a degree. Whenever I saw her, she’d talk about her course and the new friends she’s made. So, in my late twenties, I decided to work towards tertiary qualifications! I started by getting a Diploma of Youth Work, and then went on to do a Master’s Degree in Social Work part-time. There are many different tertiary pathways you can take to get into the social sector, though. You could study a straight-up Bachelor of Social Work, or a more specialised degree like a Bachelor of Youth Work and Youth Studies. Lots of people do their first degrees in other areas, like a Bachelor of Arts, or a Bachelor of Music, and then do an MA in Social Work. There’s no ‘right way’. You just have to find the path that works best for you.
What kind of skills do you think would be useful in the sector?
CARA: Well, social sector roles are really diverse, so the skills required in the industry are too. Social work involves working with people from all different kinds of backgrounds, so you’d want to have good communication and interpersonal skills for those roles. My work can get pretty intense sometimes, so good time management skills help me keep on top of my workload. I’d say strong critical thinking skills are vital too, especially when figuring out the best course of action for each person and case. These days there’s definitely more of a need for digital skills than when I first started. Being able to work in a team has always been important in my roles, but now a lot more of my collaborative work is being done online. A lot of social services are being offered online now too. I’m still developing these skills, but I can already see how useful they’ll be in the long run.