The social service sector offers exciting careers, and brings people with common passion and conviction together to effect change in individuals, families, and communities, and that eventually betters society.
The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) actively seeks passionate talents to be part of the growing sector. NCSS offers the Social Service Scholarship which scholars are emplaced to different social service organisations to create positive impacts in the lives of others.
We speak to scholarship recipients Valerene Tan Si Jie and Siti Madinah Binte Mohamed Salim. They tell us how their work has helped make a difference in the lives of others, and what they find most fulfilling about their respective roles.
Share with us what is your current role in the sector and what sparked your interest to pursue the Social Service Scholarship?
Valerene Tan Si Jie: I started working as a Special Education Teacher in the social service sector, then went on to become a Speech Language Therapist with SPD (formerly the Society for the Physically Disabled). Previously as a Special Education Teacher, I worked closely with children with special needs and their families. My encounter with them spurred me on to want to contribute more. I also saw how my work helped them and this affirmed me to build a career within the sector. Hence, I took up the scholarship to attain my masters and went into the speech language therapy profession.
Siti Madinah Binte Mohamed Salim: I am a Social Worker. Prior to formally pursuing the scholarship and this role as a career, I was actually volunteering with a charity which assists low-income families in receiving financial assistance. My interactions with these families sparked my appreciation and interest in social services. It was then I made the decision to pursue a career in social work and the scholarship was available to help me do so.
Siti Madinah Binte Mohamed Salim
Social Service Scholar
Tell us more about your job scope. What do you find fulfilling about your role?
Valerene: Being a Speech Language Therapist, work is quite different every day. A typical day starts off with prepping for my sessions, followed by conducting therapy sessions in the afternoons, thereafter writing assessment reports. I mainly see children below the age of six who have a variety of difficulties ranging from communication and restrictive interests to feeding. The most fulfilling part of my role is witnessing any child under my care showing signs of improvement, even the tiniest bit. What may seem like a simple task to most children their age, is actually a gigantic hurdle or task for them to accomplish. This could be as simple as constructing a four-word sentence, to pointing at a topic display board to communicate.
Siti: Like Valerene, no two work days are the same for me. As a Social Worker, my roles vary quite a bit but they usually consist of conducting family assessments, providing them with the appropriate assistance and counselling. Although it sounds simple, assessments with families are actually quite complex as they are conducted with the entire family unit and this means you get to explore and observe dynamics between each family member. This is where more often than not, we find out other underlying issues that the family is facing – be it abuse, unemployment, or marriage crisis. Through assessments, we are then able to obtain a holistic picture of their situation and recommend the appropriate intervention.
I think the most fulfilling part of my job is being able to journey with the families, seeing them make progress and reach a desired goal. Knowing that my work has assisted families to regain their abilities to function successfully in society again, gives me this unexplainable sense of satisfaction.
Valerene Tan Si Jie
Social Service Scholar
Speech Language Therapist
Any advice for those looking to take up the Social Service Scholarship?
Valerene: Keep an open mind when searching for a scholarship. It is not just about finding an agency to fund your studies, but finding one which aligns with your personal aspirations and values. That being said, if you are seriously considering a career in the social service sector, I encourage you to spend a day with us as a volunteer. From there, reflect on the experience. If you still feel strongly about the sector and see yourself playing a role in helping someone coping with life challenges, do not be afraid to take that leap of faith and make it your career!
Siti: I would say that it is not always going to be a smooth journey because you will be working with humans, not robots or machines. You will need to have the patience and empathy to comprehend their situations, as they too have feelings and hold values – some of which might be different from your own. By bearing witness to how lives change for the better, makes this a very rewarding career. Additionally, I am also on the Sun Ray scheme which further provides me with opportunities for career and leadership development. For example, I have experienced job rotations to different social service organisations to gain wider exposure, and have been involved in sector-wide projects to accelerate my learning. Overall, I think the sector has been progressive in helping its professionals to grow and become more competent.