This is around the time that a new batch of students turn up at the universities to enter training. I am no expert but I have been considering the ‘now’ me, would give to the ‘then’ me as it is now 10 years (gulp) since I started my MA in Social Work.
1. Reflection. Initially you’ll find it hard and not really ‘get’ it. They talk about it a lot, particularly in the placements. But it is worth it. Reflect, reflect again, and then reflect on your reflection. You might not see it now but it will improve the way you work.
2. Self-advocacy and assertiveness. You will never be able to speak on behalf of others if you are not able to speak for yourself. This is not a place for shyness. Assertiveness is not the same as blurting out things. It needs to be measured with respect and should not overpower or denigrate anyone.
3. Do not be afraid of perceived power in others – lecturers, supervisors. Remember the feeling of authority that they have and transfer that – because that may well be the way you are perceived in the future.
4. Don’t be afraid of fear. It is a good check on some of the powers that you will use. But channel it and use it. Don’t let it control you.
5. Remember that every word, phrase, action, expression will not necessarily be interpreted the way that you intend. Good intentions are not enough.
6. If someone either in the university or the placement, advises you to do something that you are uncomfortable with, don’t back down, it won’t make you feel better. At least discuss your feelings, opinions and differences. Instinct can be a good guide but it should not be your only guide.
7. Study. Take advantage of the university resources. You won’t need to spend so much money on books if you use the library more effectively. And keep going with those Italian classes – they will be your conduit to all those dreams you’ve been storing up (OK, a bit me-specific – but I was so uncertain as to whether I should have been wasting crucial study time on language classes!).
8. In the words of Alexander Pope
‘Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of mankind is man.’.
People will never fail to surprise and not all knowledge is garnered through books. Eclectic theoretical approaches will be your friend!
9. You only gain respect by giving it.
10. You can change the world. Not necessarily everyone’s world. Not necessarily every day. But one step at a time, for individuals, you can change perceptions of the world. Changing one person’s view of the world is as if you have changed the world. Don’t stop hoping and dreaming.
11. Admit mistakes. Don’t ever try to cover them up. Especially if they affect other people. Covering things up is a long and slippery road.
12. Enjoy it!
What would you consider to be advice that you would give to yourself, 10 years ago?