If you’re considering a career in Youth Work, we have two pieces of great news! Firstly: The Federal Government estimates that the demand for youth workers will be very strong over the next 5 years.
Secondly: We were lucky enough to chat with Jim Cameron, a Youth Support Officer from the Hume City Council.
Want to know what it’s like working as a Youth Worker? Keep reading to find out!
Hi, Jim! Can you tell me a bit about what your daily tasks are?
My tasks change from day-to-day. Some days are focused solely on program preparation and delivery, and other days are more administrative. I spend time on research, planning programs, writing reports, liaising with youth development committees and potential partners, networking, and catching up on emails. Every day is different.
What’s the best part about your job?
The best part about my job, by far, is engaging with young people. Acknowledging the passion young people have for influencing change in their community, and facilitating that engagement is incredibly rewarding. I also get to think of fun and engaging things for young people to do.
What drew you to a career in youth work? Did you always want to be a Youth Support Officer?
When I was going through some tough times as a young person, I had positive influences in my life who inspired me to pursue a career in youth work. I wouldn’t say I knew exactly the type of work I wanted to do, but being a support for young people in some capacity was the goal.
What’s been your career highlight?
I’ve had so many highlights! Helping to develop a youth podcast was a good one. I’ve also had some rewarding experiences working on programs that promote healthy masculinity for at-risk young people.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Maybe the bureaucracy? I’m not sure if it’s specific to youth work but working in local government sometimes means that certain initiatives take time to get off the ground. Although limiting, this is often due to the importance of accountability. It comes with the territory, I guess.
It can also be tough to hear some of the challenges young people are facing. This is one of those ‘giving’ professions where you are spending a lot of your time expressing empathy and acting for others. Even though it is rewarding, it can take its toll.
What surprised you the most about working in Youth Services?
Although it’s no surprise that the demographics, needs, and services differ greatly from LGA to LGA – the degree at which they differ is quite significant. People don’t realise that there is no “one size fits all” approach to working with young people and each community required a nuanced approach.
What kind of attributes do you need?
I don’t think you necessarily need these, but I’ve found them to be useful. High energy, being comfortable speaking to and facilitating groups, patience, understanding, good communication, time management, and a robust self-care plan.
How many hours do you work a week?
Around 40. It’s important to have a good work/life balance which can be easily overlooked when working in this sector. Many of our programs are offered after hours because young people are in school, and you are often moving from one place to another during the day. Staying on top of any additional hours you work is really important to maintain balance.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a career in Youth Work?
I would suggest doing some volunteering. There are heaps of opportunities out there and it can be a good way to get involved in an organisation you might one day like to work for. Most youth work roles these days require an undergraduate degree in some type of social science, community development, social work, youth work etc. So I’d definitely take a look at that type of study.
Completing a youth work course online within Open Colleges will give you the skills to look after the physical and mental wellbeing of teenagers and youth. At Open Colleges, we offer the CHC50413 Diploma of Youth Work and the CHC40413 Certificate IV in Youth Work.
Enrol today, or try a Free 7 day course trial.