Student Voices

Things I Learnt During my Student Placement

My name is Karley Mulrooney.

As a Social Services student, I was looking for a role where I could advocate, build awareness and work to dismantle the many systemic barriers that affect Indigenous peoples. Finally, I discovered Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services. This agency has surpassed my mentioned aspirations and provided me with so much more. I will never forget the work that was done, the amazing individuals who have always been so welcoming and supportive, and the knowledge that I will carry with me and implement in my future career as a Social Service Worker.

The 4 key lessons I am walking away with are:

1. Building Rapport 

Throughout my placement, I have learnt a lot about the importance of building rapport with various people – children, youth, families and colleagues. I had some previous knowledge of rapport building as I learned about it throughout my academic journey. In saying this, learning about rapport, and applying rapport in real life situations, are very different things. In my role as an Alternative Care Worker, part of my daily roles and responsibilities include completing home visits with families who I have never met before. This is where rapport building comes into play, I learnt how apply these skills by treating these clients with the upmost respect and understanding, monitoring my self-disclosure, actively listening, applying empathy, and having strong communication skills. Through critical self-reflection, I now recognize how these skills have supported me in building rapport in my everyday tasks. 

2. Communication

I strongly believe that effective communication plays a key role in most of the work I do as an Alternative Care Worker. Communication sets the foundation for strong documentation, interactions, etc. In this field, communication has supported me in collecting information from clients, co-workers, etc. It has supported me in further understanding my clients’ thoughts/feelings during in-home visits/virtual calls. My mentor (Alana Walker) has taught me so much through her verbal communication skills with me throughout my journey. We met together bi-weekly and discussed my progress, my goals, and we worked together to review my strengths and areas that could be improved upon. I strongly believe these meetings have supported me in not only improving myself but strengthen my work. 

3. Self-Care 

I have learnt so much about the importance of self-care in this career. Although this career is extremally rewarding, it can be mentally draining at times. Growing up, I heard a lot about the importance of self-care in one’s career, little did I know how prevalent it truly was. I have to give credit to my amazing team. Throughout my placement, my team was always open and honest about their mental state, thoughts, and feelings. We would have team meetings at the start of each day where we would gather (virtually) and take turns “checking-in” on one another. My incredible team has taught me the importance of taking care of yourself and monitoring your mental health. I have developed and implemented many strategies that have supported me in taking care of my emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. 

4. Cultural Competence 

Cultural Competence has played a large role in both my personal and professional development. I recognize that I am always learning in this placement, especially as I identify as non-Indigenous. I also recognize the importance of demonstrating cultural competence. I have learned that due to intergenerational trauma, many of the families I work with are trying to reconnect with their culture.  In saying this, I work hard to ensure that cultural practices are integrated into the services we provide. For example, through healing circles, traditional medicines, and Indigenous educational materials such as books, puzzles, and videos. These resources support and provide a general understanding to children, youth, and families about their cultural background and help to ensure continuation of their Indigenous knowledge. 

Overall, I am extremely thankful for all the knowledge and support I have gained throughout my journey at Dnaagdawenmag Binnoojiiyag Child & Family Services.

Currently accepting applications but only until March 24!