Why choose a social work career with Extern?

Being a social worker is very different within the voluntary sector compared to other areas. We have a level of flexibility and adaptability within our roles to deliver a professional service immediately.

The different services we offer in Extern also allow for creative, innovative environments to create meaningful relationships with the people we support. Your knowledge and practice are continuously developing to meet the individual needs of the service user.

How would you describe the 'people culture' in Extern?

I have thrived within the organisation due to the open, approachable manner of experienced workers within the teams where I have worked. Peer support has been a key factor, especially given the recent pandemic.

There’s always a colleague to provide advice or a listening ear and our supervision always helps.
Also, within my team there are opportunities for new staff, volunteers and students to shadow workers throughout the working day, in a friendly, educational way. 

Why did you become a social worker?

I had applied for a social work degree whenever I was 18 but I just didn't have enough experience, so I did a degree in sociology and social policy instead. I then became a support worker in dementia care and after getting two years’ experience there, I got onto the two year degree course in Queen’s University Belfast, because of my relevant first degree.

What kind of professional development does Extern offer that sets it apart from others?

Extern’s known in the sector for being a leader in regards to training and professional development has been really encouraged throughout my time here. There are lots of opportunities to develop particular skills within different areas of social work practice that are suited to your professional role.

I have completed my practice teaching qualification, and that is definitely an area that I want to keep and develop. I want to be able to share my experience and be a guiding light for the students who are coming in to Extern during their placement, and ensure that they have opportunities to see what this amazing role can do for people and their lives.

How have you been supported in your work?

I’ve been encouraged to develop and tailor my professional role to meet the needs of the service users, and this has been supported not only through the management team, but with peer support from colleagues. I’ve also been encouraged to develop my professional responsibility and accountability within my role.

Describe the potential for learning in Extern.

I have definitely benefitted from focused, specialist training, both from internal and external providers. And the breadth of knowledge that is shared by colleagues has been a big aspect of my learning journey within Extern; the sharing process is very open and allows time to discuss and explore ideas and knowledge, and create innovative ways of working with service users.

And what is the best thing about working for Extern?

The people that I work with, and the work that you are able to do with someone. You don't always know what your day is going to be like, because of the people, so it's that daily challenge that makes this such an interesting career. It’s hard to think of another organisation in which as a social worker you can so easily tap into the knowledge and openness of colleagues who work across such a broad array of specialisms.

Download Danielle's story