Getting Social Work Experience

If you’re interested in social work jobs, it cannot be too early to start thinking about work experience. As a practical job with a steep learning curve, and confidence all important when you’re dealing with people, evidence of experience in the field is one of those things that will make it much easier for you to succeed. Whether it’s getting onto your chosen degree course, postgraduate training or finding those first jobs, having a portfolio of work experience and placements under your belt will be as big an asset as academic qualifications.

So, how can you get social work experience? That’s the issue we’re looking at today to help guide you towards a successful social work future!


Some of the best places you can look for relevant experience are charities. Given that social work covers a broad array of different areas and disciplines it’s worth being specific: if you’re interested in building a career as a child social worker, working with children’s charities will get you more relevant experience, and be more useful to you than working with people recovering from drug addiction for example. If you’re not able to get experience in the specific area you want to work in, bear in mind that some experience is better than none, and over the course of your training your ideas may change anyway!

There are big charities with well-established programmes that it makes sense to be your first port of call: Mind, Save the Children, Shelter, and Help the Aged cover the most widespread social work areas between them and are a great place to start getting work experience in school holidays, at weekends, or during a gap year.

That said, you’ll likely need to cast your net further afield. It makes sense for those big charities to be everyone’s first port of call, so you might not be able to find your first choice of internship or placement. Look into smaller, local charities who can offer experience that’s just as valuable, and may appreciate your help all the more!

Work Placements

Your social work training or degree is going to come with practical experience built in but you can still capitalise on it to get the best experience. Again, with your eventual career goals in mind, try to push for experience that will give you a head start, whether it’s working with children, or getting experience with a particular service or in a particular city.

When you come to apply for those all important first jobs, being able to show you’ve already got some relevant experience will make you a much more attractive candidate.

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