Social Service Worker program reshapes grad’s career path
Mobeena Hamid remembers when she realized the positive impact her Social Service Worker training could have. She was completing one of the program’s two specialized field placements at Centennial College’s Career Services and Co-operative Education department when a student came in voicing concerns about her inability to pay tuition. Using concepts she had learned in her college courses, Mobeena was able to help the client by assisting with an action plan and increasing her confidence in finding work. It was also one of the many program experiences that altered Mobeena’s career trajectory.
“When I came to the college, I was convinced I wanted to work with kids and youth, but I was exposed to so much more that opened my eyes to how varied the social service work field is,” says Mobeena, who graduated this year. “So, the program, and especially my Career Services placement, changed the target demographic I want to work with. I’m now pursuing a Master of Education in Social Justice Education, and my goal is to work at a college or university supporting students, whether in mental health or academic capacity.”
Arriving at Centennial with an Honours Bachelor of Arts, Mobeena wanted to use her college experience as a bridging point to further education. She immediately noticed the differences between a university and a college approach to education. In Mobeena’s small-sized classes, the predominant method of learning was a practical application. This, she says, was highly effective in truly being able to understand concepts and theories.
“Having social service work labs incorporated right into courses was a big distinction for me coming from university,” she says. “It isn’t just memorizing concepts. It’s really about understanding how we would adapt the skills to real-life situations and then applying them.”
Centennial’s Social Service Worker program, says Mobeena, also takes common application practices a step further. For example, rather than just being presented with case studies, students also have the opportunity to create their own case studies. The approach, she says, allowed her to put concepts into perspective from social service workers and potential client angles.
“Rather than just sitting down and looking at slides, the activities created a lot of class discussion and encouraged active critical thinking,” she says. “We weren’t just internalizing ideas.”
With the richness of Centennial’s in-class learning, Mobeena says she was able to confidently enter the Social Service Worker program’s integrated field placements. In fact, she also credits the Career Services placement with being hired for a contract she recently completed as an employment outreach counsellor and the program with helping her get accepted into her Master’s program.
“The field placement is a chance to take our learning and make the right decisions for our clients on our own, without instructors guiding us,” she says. “The summer job I had also aligned with my placement, and I was able to use skills and concepts I learned to better understand and help my clients.
“I would tell new Social Service Worker students to push yourself out of your comfort zone, academically and socially. Building meaningful relationships with faculty and my peers helps with learning and professional development.”
Written By: Izabela Szydlo