Linda Curran, Social and Project Worker, Ana Liffey Drug Project
Social and Project Worker
Employer Ana Liffey Drug Project
Education Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Social Policy (2009), MA in Social Work (2012), Trinity College Dublin.
A career in social work has always been of interest to me, and I choose to pursue an undergraduate degree in sociology and social policy at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). My primary degree provided me with a broad understanding of what a career in social work would entail, and to build upon my degree, I continued my studies with an MA in Social Work at TCD. My post-graduate degree provided me with the practical experience and the specialised education that I needed in order to develop my career in the field of social work.
It was mandatory that I completed two professional placements as part of my postgraduate programme. I went on two separate placements; a child protection placement and a mental health placement. My experience working in two vastly different fields of social work was invaluable and prepared me for the professional world. They provided me with both relevant and transferable skills that ultimately still play a major role in my current position as a social and project worker at the Ana Liffey Drug Project (ALDP).
My Current Role
My present role comprises two jobs, social work and project work, into a single position. I deal with a very broad range of social issues, from drop-in clients with queries not necessarily specific to family social work, to group sessions on harm reduction and treatment options as well as individual sessions with clients. My role at ALDP gives me the opportunity to participate in a lot of group work, which may not have been available to me in other field positions.
ALDP services make minimal requirements on the clients, aiming to reach as many people in need as possible, without putting restraints on their treatment. I am working with vulnerable people and faced with difficult situations on a daily basis. Therefore, building a strong channel of communication and trust with a client is a key aspect of my profession. On that note, my job satisfaction can be determined by small moments, such as gaining the trust of a client.
Advice to Graduates
With the job market still challenging, gaining experience where you can is crucial to securing a future job. I started my career in social work as a full time volunteer with Simon Community. Dedicating your own free time to a voluntary role will not only give you added experience that will contribute to your skill set, but will speak volumes to an employer. On another note, pursuing voluntary work with different organisations can often help define what field of social work is right for you.
I would definitely suggest approaching every job opportunity with a flexible mind set. Career mobility within an organisation or company is often a possibility, but you have to be open to applying for roles that may not fit your ideal choice. My current position was awarded to me after I had spent some time working in the midlands for ALDP. So even if the job title isn’t what you saw yourself in originally, you are still building up skills and gaining more experience, which will ultimately stand to your future career.
No matter how much experience you have, settling into a new job will always have its challenges. In social work, it is important to focus on relationship building between both clients and your colleagues, which will later stand to you when faced with difficult situations. I’d suggest entering the work-force with an open-mind and a respectful attitude.
I definitely see myself working in a community centre, developing my career to focus on addiction and mental health. Working in a community centre gives me more freedom than I might have had working in a statutory role, but perhaps with more statutory experience, I may think differently. The more experience I have working with people with addiction issues, the more evident the social gaps are that lead them to their situation, which gives me an idea of where to potentially focus my work in the future.