Hands-on experience for career success

Completing 1000 hours of professional experience has made social work student Ye Rim Lee feel ready for her future career.

Completing 1000 hours of professional experience has made social work student Ye Rim Lee feel ready for her future career.

International student Ye Rim Lee could have studied a Bachelor of Social Work at just about any university, but she chose ACU. In part, she says, she was influenced by the competitive tuition fees, but she also wanted to study on a smaller campus where staff were focused on the student experience.

“There were many options for me at the time I applied, but I do really prefer a small campus,” says Ye Rim, who started her degree at ACU Canberra before transferring to Strathfield last year.

“The Canberra campus is really small and kind of like a family, and I really liked that, rather than a huge university with so many students.”

Having previously studied product design in her home country of South Korea, Ye Rim says there was a connection between her original degree and the decision to study social work.

“I used to study industrial design and product design and I was always the person who focused on products for disabled people,” she says.

“Later, I decided I wanted to change my major, but I still wanted to work with people with disabilities or people who are disadvantaged in society, which is what made me look at social work.”

Now, nearly at the end of her ACU degree, she’s happy with her decision. She says one of her favourite things about the course is the way that the curriculum is interconnected – every subject has a clear and logical place in the learning journey, with clear links to the skills and knowledge that students develop throughout the course.

“All the units really intertwine together,” she says.

“I’m in fourth year now and I’m realising that oh my gosh, those first two units from first year helped me to learn this concept I’m working on now.”

The four-year degree has given her lots of opportunities to explore the ins and outs of social work, from studying sociology and psychology to completing the hundreds of hours of professional placements in preparation for graduation.

At ACU, students undertake three professional placements, totaling 1000 hours, as part of their degree requirements. They can be placed in a range of organisations or agencies, working alongside experienced social workers support young people, the elderly, and people with disabilities, to name a few.

To date, Ye Rim has completed one placement with a youth homelessness service and another with a young women’s mental health service. She says the experiences have helped her gain skills and knowledge that she’ll need for her future career and given her a better understanding of Australian workplace culture.

“The culture and the way people work here is really different from my country, so it has been really useful information for me,” she says.

After marrying her Sydney-based partner last year, Ye Rim made the move from Canberra to Sydney in the second half of 2019. And, while it was a big deal to leave her friends and the campus she loved behind, she says that transferring from one ACU campus to another was a surprisingly straightforward experience.

Now in her final year, she’s starting to think more carefully about what she’ll do next. While she originally intended to graduate and start looking for work, her studies over the last year or so have given her a growing interest in research. It’s a direction she’s planning to explore.

“I’m planning to consult with my lecturer about the research pathways available in social work after graduation,” she says.

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