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“Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent”

To tie in with impending new terms and a wave of new starters making the big step to enter social work, I’ve dedicated my first column in Sanctuary Social Work News to embracing new beginnings. 

With any new experience, approach with a little apprehension but embrace it and try not to over think, daily experiences are often much better evaluated at the end of several weeks or months.

Be brave 

It’s daunting. New teams, roles, courses are overwhelming. Give yourself three-six months of settling in and go easy on yourself. It won’t all happen instantly so try to build that confidence little by little. Start to understand how you work and learn best, so you can ask for support to be delivered most effectively. Speak up for what you need and be as assertive, although it can be intimidating in a new setting. Bravery is a strong quality, nurture it.

Be curious and organised

Eyes open and questions ready. There aren’t ‘stupid questions’ as such, but no one wants to hear the same question repeated over and over. Absorb the answers and take responsibility for collating the information; find somewhere to jot down the answers and helpful info /numbers. Make for a real geek and colour-code your pad with highlighter tabs if you like; this makes for much speedier referencing down the line. 

Lower your expectations

If your expectations are more ‘realistic’ your scope to be disappointed is far reduced. Go in expecting little but ready to exhaust a lot from as many people as you can. Hopefully your team falls over themselves to help you, but this isn’t always the case. There is so much wider support available, so seek it out, via Twitter, conferences, extended peer support, professional bodies; we can help deliver this if you feel you’re not getting what you need – just be proactive and get in touch. Don’t struggle silently.
I wish you a confident start to the journey. And to anyone about to take on a student or NQSW, please – fall over yourself to help them.

The next iamsocialwork conferences are in Birmingham, Reading and Sussex. I’ll keep you posted with dates and details on the website,

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