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Advocating for equality and human rights: why I study Social Work

This article appears in: Balance work, life and study, Community Services and Social Work, Study tips
Genevieve smilling in a garden

Genevieve McGuiness has always known that she wanted a career working with and helping others. She chose a Bachelor of Social Work with CDU because she's able to study externally (online) from home, while she juggles her own small business and two young children.  Now midway through her degree, we asked Genevieve to share why she's passionate about social work, where she sees her career taking her and how she manages to excel at uni, manage her business and her family commitments without burning out. 

What led you to apply to study social work here at CDU?

When I began my degree I was a stay at home mum with two children aged 16-months and five, I was also running my own handmade art business at the time. I was interested in studying at a university that was compatible with my lifestyle. I was drawn to the fact that I could watch lectures in my living room while my toddler napped and that I could duck into the local CDU library to borrow some books or study on the weekends when I needed to. I'd also heard positive feedback from other students who studied at CDU externally, even interstate students.

Have you always known that you wanted to be a social worker? 

I have always had a keen interest in working in human services and wanted to study social work after I finished high school. After I finished high school in Victoria I studied a diploma of counselling as I did not feel ready to start a full time degree. After I finished the diploma my desire to become a social worker was further ignited. I was keen to build on my knowledge of working with a diverse range of people who are experiencing challenges to enhance their quality of life. 

I have always been interested in listening to others and advocating for equality and human rights. I have always had a strong interest in working with children, families, and refugees.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting social work here at CDU? 

I would advise those who may feel unsure about studying the degree due to family or work commitments to give it their best go. If you’re passionate about anything in life you will make it work.

At the beginning of my degree I pushed myself very hard, I’d stay up every night studying, I was exhausted and started to burn out. Now I have made the conscious effort to engage in self-care, whether that’s simply exercising a few times a week, eating well or reading a book. Taking some time out for myself during the semester has been essential for me. Something I now embrace is to aim for ‘progress not perfection’. 

If I can study full time with two little ones, while maintaining a high GPA and a healthy balanced life, anyone can.

What aspects of your course have you particularly enjoyed?

I have really enjoyed attending the social work intensives throughout the degree, particularly as an external student. It has been a great opportunity to network and build friendships with other students from all over the country. I’ve also really enjoyed the various units I have done, particularly sociology, group work, learning about social work theories and social research.

What aspects of your course have you found the most challenging?

The most challenging thing for me was initially working out a balanced study life. I am yet to start my 500 hour placement, I start in semester 2 2019, so I’m hoping that I will be able to continue the balance I currently have in place.

Lastly, what’s your goal after you graduate? What’s your dream job?

What I love about social work is that there are so many diverse fields of practice that I can work in after I graduate. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what my dream job is because the opportunities seem endless. I am interested in working in child protection, particularly strengthening families’ connections. I am also interested in the area of mental health, counselling and working with refugees and asylum seekers.

Interested in studying Social Work at CDU? Applications are now open. Learn more about the course, entry requirements and how to apply.

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