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Mary Ita Heffernan, Social Worker

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

I decided to do a 3 year degree in Social Science UCC, Cork which was a clear cut route into the area of Social Work. I also decided to undertake this broad degree course as it would provide me with a variety of different options to pursue after completion of my degree especially in the event that I chose a different career path to Social Work as I got older!

I also chose this course as it provided an introduction to a variety of subjects e.g. Social Policy, Psychology, Sociology Philosophy, Law, Economics and other interesting topics pertinent to certain areas of society .eg. homelessness, social issues such as drug use etc.

In second year, I had to choose which subjects I wanted to specialise in for my degree which ultimately meant that the subjects in question would be focused on in more detail rather than in a generalised context.

In my final year of the degree, I was very determined that Social Work was the career I wanted. Hence, I then completed a two year Masters in Social Work in UCC in order to obtain a Professional Qualification as a Social Work Practitioner. I loved this course and felt like I had finally “come into my own”. Again, this course offers an array of subjects (such as Family Law, Psychology, Working with Children and Families, Policies and Legislation governing Social Work Practice etc.) and skill development based classes (e.g. development and use of counselling skills etc.).

Throughout this two year Masters, one is required to complete two student placements in the field of Social Work - one in a voluntary area, the other in a  statutory agency – the student lists their preference in certain areas of Social Work. I worked firstly in a community development project and my second placement was in a child protection agency in a statutory setting on a specialist team working with children and families at risk where a parent(s) is a drug user.
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