What did you study at undergraduate and postgraduate level and when did you graduate? What are you studying now (if applicable)? Are you studying and working at the same time?
I am currently in my fourth year as an undergraduate in Social Work and Criminology. I am also working part time and volunteering for a mental health organisation.
Please list the most important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)
I think one of the most important stages of my life was when I started working at my first job at McDonalds. I was 15 and I have been working part time while studying ever since. Working part time while studying full time has taught me time management and organisational skills. I've also developed interpersonal skills, which has helped me become more open to people during interactions. Starting university was also an extremely important time of my life, although it is not just because I'll have a degree. You learn a lot during the process. Aside from work and education, adopting my dog also changed my life.
How did you get to your current (or most recent) job position and for how long have you occupied it (if applicable)?
I worked in the hospitality industry for about 5 years. Although at times it was hard, it taught me many things and I gained valuable skills. I'm currently a part time office administrator and volunteer at a mental health organisation. Without the abilities I've developed over the last 5 years, I would not have been successful in gaining these roles.
About your course
What made you decide to progress with further study?
I was always interested in working with people and to help them work towards creating a better life. I always had an interest in crime and the social theories behind why people commit crimes and in general why they behave the way they do (psychology, sociology). A dual degree in Social Work and Criminology seemed to fit perfectly with what I had in mind.
How did you choose your particular further study course (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any alternative degrees or career pathways before choosing this qualification?
I studied for a Bachelor of Policing at the Western Sydney University for a year before I realised that I wanted to approach from a rehabilitation perspective, rather than from a law enforcement angle. I am the only friend in my group that decided to take on this field of work. Everyone else around me was going into a business/commerce degree and many of my friends are doing engineering. Sometimes I felt left out because I was the only one doing it and people judged the degree without actually knowing what was involved. People kept saying that you can't make money in this field, and at the time when I was choosing my path, I was worried. 4 years down the track, I have not regretted my decision. You can definitely make a living.
What was the process to get accepted into your course? What were the prerequisites?
If you were to apply straight from high school, the ATAR requirement is around 84 (may vary slightly). Since I transferred from WSU, it was based on my grades. I was able to transfer credits over since I did similar subjects which meant that I did not have to start from scratch. My average grade that year was distinction (75+).
What does your study involve? Can you describe a typical day? (if it’s difficult to describe a typical day, tell us about the last thing you worked on?)
For my criminology core units, there is a lot of research involved. Much of the work is based on social research and policies. Hence, my typical day would usually involve doing readings and then writing up a research proposal or report. During the first years, you'd be doing introductory subjects into criminology (also involves lots of reading). Social work involves a lot of essays and reports as well. But it's interesting and you learn as you write.
Will this course be beneficial in your career? Where could you or others in your position go from here? Please explain your answer.
Yes, because social work is so broad, there are countless job opportunities in Sydney. Criminology will be beneficial if you are looking to work in goverment justice centres (but not limited to). It will provide you with more background knowledge on issues that people you meet as a social worker often encounter (alcohol and other drugs, domestic violence, abuse, sexual assault etc). They definitely go hand in hand if that's the career path to you want to go down.
Pros and cons
What do you love the most about your course?
The content is well laid out with some flexibility to choosing topics of interest through criminology electives and general education electives (topics outside of social sciences). The tutors and lecturers are very helpful in mentoring you during your learning. You will also make some great friends on the way and you will be able to help each other out. There are 2 x 6 month placements implemented into the course, providing you with experience when you graduate.
What are the limitations of your course?
Content is often very heavy; it may be difficult for some people to take in the information. You may not enjoy every single subject, which could influence your grades due to the difficulty in engaging in the course content. I've seen group work issues with other people, but it doesn't happen often.
A word to the wise…
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your studies, or even to one’s professional life.
You may need to refer back to the content that you were taught during your studies. Try to keep important and informal information. Don't stress when you don't do well in an assessment; use the feedback to improve yourself in the future. There is no point in dwelling on the past. Enjoy your time here; it'll be one of the best times of your life.