Lauren Bartley - BSW (Honours)

New Social Work graduate Lauren Bartley reflects on putting her learning into practice

Lauren Bartley and her father Dr Allen Bartley

“After school I had no sense of direction. I went overseas and spent six months volunteering, seeing the world in a different light. I came back knowing I wanted to do Social Work. I’ve always had a strong sense of social justice – wanting to do something in the world.

“There was no question what university I went to. Auckland has the best programme in the country. I would have been silly to go anywhere else.

“I thought the programme was awesome. The relationship that gets built among students and with staff is something you don’t get with any other degree. I really appreciated that togetherness and sense of journeying together. The staff were amazing – really supportive and inspiring.

“The programme is scaffolded – each year builds on the last and it really sets you up for practice. I’m out practising now and I’m still using the stuff I learnt.

“Placements were a big highlight. In my third year I worked with Auckland Action Against Poverty (a radical, political, social justice organisation). I really loved it. I wanted a radical experience and I got it.

“My other placement was at Auckland Hospital in the Women’s Health Team on pregnancy loss - counselling after miscarriages or still births. It was really awesome, my biggest learning curve.

“Now I’m a social worker in at two schools in Otahuhu. It’s relentless and intense but I’m loving it. I’m on my own in school so I can make my job exactly what I want it to be. It can be hard – there’s no other social worker to copy. You need to make it up. I’m growing so much in my confidence. 'Fake it til you make it' is my motto. I was given that advice on placement.

“To anyone considering the Social Work programme, I’d say do it. If you’ve got that passion for change in the world there are so many possibilities in Social Work. There are heaps of different fields and jobs.

“I think eventually I will come back and do a Masters - something around poverty, injustice and equity, and how we address those as social workers. I definitely want to end on somewhere big picture. But it’s one step at a time.”