Sociological Imagination

Sociological Imagination: Sociology

Sociological Imagination

One of the underpinning theoretical frameworks which guides the practices of youth work is that of Sociology. It helps us to look more deeply at the world our young people live, work and play within. One of the key thoughts within Sociology is from C. Wright Mills, the sociological imagination. The ability to look at an issue from an individual and social perspective. So lets find out more about this key framework.

C. Wright MILLS

Sociological ImaginationAmerican Philosopher and Sociologist, Charles Wright Mills was a Professor of Sociology at Columbia University from 1946 until his death in 1962, aged 45. Mills, a native Texan, was published widely throughout his career in popular and intellectual journals, and is a proponent of the conflict perspective within sociological thought. Mills was concerned with the responsibilities of intellectuals in post-World War Two society, and advocated public and political engagement over disinterested observation.

Mills sociological work was heavily influenced by eminent German conflict theorists and fathers of sociology Karl Marx and Max Weber.

Mills is remembered for several books, among them ‘The Power Elite’, which introduced that term and describes the relationships and class alliances among the U.S. political, military, and economic elites; ‘White Collar’, on the American middle class; and ‘The Sociological Imagination’, where Mills presents a model of analysis for the interdependence of subjective experiences within a person’s biography, the general social structure and historical development.

Overview

The Sociological ImaginationIn 1959 one of the most important texts in sociological work was published by Oxford University Press. The book by American Sociologist C. Wright Mills “The Sociological Imagination” changed the landscape of sociological thought and research forever.

Mills conveyed that the core undertaking for sociology as a discipline and sociologists particularly was to discover and express the connections between the particular social environments of individuals (also known as “milieu”) and the wider social and historical forces in which they are embroiled. This approach challenges the structural functionalist approach to Sociology, as it opens new positions for the individual to occupy with regard to the larger social structure. Individual function that reproduces larger social structure is only one of many possible roles, and is not necessarily the most important. In Mills own words, “The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That’s its task and its promise”.

In ‘The Sociological Imagination’, Mills endeavored to reconcile two abstract conceptions of social reality—the “individual” and “society”—and thereby confronted the dominant sociological discourse of functionalism. In essence he asked where the convergence point is between an individual’s ‘personal troubles’ and societies ‘public issues’.

Private issues

Mill work on the sociological imagination looked at the dominant discourse of individuality and sought to understand the framework of an individual’s ‘personal troubles’. These private issues which are said to have nothing to do with the rest of society such as what you eat, who you vote for, which religion you follow or what type of job you have. For Mills these private issues were not just the sole purview of the individual, but a complex system of interweaving thought and ideas from everywhere.

Public issues

This interweaving system is what Mills coined as public issues. Why is it that individuals in poor communities seem to have children who follow in the same footsteps as their parents? Mills argues that it has little to do with the individual’s choices and much more to do with the systems and the power of the elites which guide the forces around the individual. There is an intricate relationship between the individual and society.

Examples

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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ABCD and the youth work profession debate?

ABCD for Youth Work

Much of 2016 was horrible for the profession of youth work. Our funding was cut… yet again, more of our colleagues lost their jobs and still more left because of burnout. Much of our discussion of the profession of youth work has focussed on what we don’t have and what we aren’t yet. Aside from a few fledgling state based professional associations our move towards developing the profession of youth work has stalled. So what next? What is the next step for us in developing the profession of youth work in Australia? What can we learn from Asset Based Community Development?

Youth WorkTo begin with I think we need to re-evaluate where we are at and where we want to be. For the last few years we have rested on the academic work of he last decade to frame our arguments around professionalism. There has been a glaring omission in this research, the voice of the youth worker. For the most part the work on the development of professional youth work in Australia has been the purview of academics, peak bodies and industry groups. We need to hear what those on the front line want from a professional association. We also need to ask what this association would look like?

One framework that could help us to begin reframing the discussion is Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action

ABCDLiberation is a key focus of youth work theory and is a focus we should consider in professionalising. Harvard University academic Rosabeth Moss Kanter says that when we do change to people, they experience it as violence, but when people do change to themselves, they experience it as liberation. There are currently three groups in the debate; those who are in favour of professionalising, those who are against professionalising and those who are apathetic to the whole debate. None of these groups are experiencing liberation.

We are a divided community. Partly this is due to the competitive nature of government funding, partly our qualification system and partly how our services are set up. We have become so entrenched in the deficits based funding models that we see our professional deficits. We have so brought into the minimum qualifications mentality and graduate so few postgrads that the notion of becoming  a highly educated profession is fascicle. We also have difficulty transitioning between statutory and non-government service provision. Honestly we focus more on our diversity than we do on the things that make youth work cohesive.

Its easy these days to focus on what is wrong in youth work. Like I said, its embedded in our way of thinking. We need to move as Cormac Russell states from, “whats wrong to whats strong” in our youth work community. What assets do we bring to the question of professionalising? What is our strength? How can we use our strengths to meet our agreed goals? We need to build our community. We need a clear goal for youth work as a profession. Perhaps ABCD can help us to develop these areas.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Challenge Support Matrix for youth work

Over the past five years we have worked with hundreds of youth workers who are struggling in the field. We have searched for a model to explain this to no avail. We heard stories of the challenge of youth work and we heard stories of the need for support.We have done the research and we can tell you why people leave the field. We can tell you how to keep people in their jobs. However, there was no neat package that we could use to help managers understand what was going wrong and frontline staff to recognise where they were at… until now.

Let us introduce you to the challenge/support matrix

Challenge-SupportWe love this Quadrant Matrix as it so easily sums up the issues we hear every day.  As you can see there are two Axis: Challenge and support. These two axis are broken down to four quadrants.

Quadrant 1 (STRESSED) High Challenge/Low Support

In a nutshell one of the main complaints we get from youth workers are that they get too little support and feel that they are too challenged. This leads many of the youth workers we speak to to end up highly stressed. These youth workers often tell us that they rarely see their manager accept when their review is due or a discussion about KPI’s needs to be had. They also tell us that their case loads are ever growing and there is no more resources or time to support the young people they work with. When asked about their last supervision session these youth workers almost always laugh and say “what supervision“.

Quadrant 2 (Apathy) Low Challenge/Low Support

When we see youth workers who are seeming to become apathetic about their jobs we often see that there has been an absence in the support they need to do the job and a co-occuring lack of challenge. Often this has come as a manager has decided that they are beginning to check out or that they cant be trusted to do anything bigger than the role they already have. In taking away challenge Managers hope to see their staff rise up in their mundane tasks. Unfortunately, what tends to happen is that the staff member does not see a future and ends up apathetic.

Quadrant 3 (Complacent) Low Challenge/High Support

In our experience this is the rarity. However in some spaces such as local government or some community based organisations we come across youth workers who feel that they have way too much support but little to no challenge. These youth workers almost always tell us that their managers know everything about them. In fact their Manager is often a good friend to the unsuspecting youth worker. There are cakes for birthdays, long lunches and no challenges. The Managers often tell us that they are trying to shield their staff from the endless KPI’s and funding issues. They tell us they want to be liked by their staff. They tell us that their team is important to them. What we see in this situation is the team ends up collapsing due to no one showing initiative or staff leaving to seek their next move. The other issue that comes up is the team that is so cliquey that no one will ever leave… even when they should.

Quadrant 4 (Growth) High Challenge/High Support

The final quadrant is where we hope to see every youth worker. In this Quadrant you are supported extensively by your manager. You get good supervision and training. You get regular debriefing. You are given the time you need to do your work. There is a trusting relationship between you and your manager. On the other hand you are challenged. You are asked to be better every time. You are asked to learn more every week. You may be encouraged to do more study to gain higher qualifications. You are given opportunities to stretch your skills. To try new things. To become a leader. To grow.

Which Quadrant are you in? What do you need to do to get into Quadrant 4?

Leave a comment below.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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You need a mentor

Podcast 009: You need a mentor

You need a mentor
To support the podcast, donate here!

You need a mentor!!!

In todays Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast “You need a mentor”, Aaron gets us thinking about the need for mentors in youth work. We look at five things we need to do to find and get a mentor. He also leaves us with a challenge. Here is the overview.


Find a worthy mentor

Check them out! If you are looking to become a better you in your personal life, your job wherever then you want someone who is going to be able to do that. There are a lot of people who make their living telling you what to do who have never done the things they sprout. Snake oil sellers.

You want to find a person who has lived a worthy life. Who has made mistakes and learnt from them. Who dosen’t have all the answers but has a network of people to help them. Who sees their family as more important than the work.

The key here is to see if their public face and private are the same or if they wear masks. Check out their social media profiles, ask people who know them about their personality and behaviour.

Mentoring doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. What does this person have to enrich your life or work?

If they are not a fit move on to someone that is.

Be mentor worthy

Nothing will end your search for a mentor faster than if you are not ready. There is an old proverb that goes “when the student is ready the master will appear”. This fits perfectly in mentoring. Mentor will check you out too. You don’t have to be perfect but you have to want to strive towards it. You need to be teachable and open to being challenged. You need to recognise your limitations and know what makes you tick. You need to know your values and why you want a mentor.

Your work must be of an exceptional level. If it’s not you better be able to show that you are trying. You need to be a learner at heart, taking every opportunity to learn a new skill. You must be reflective.

If you tick these boxes you will be in a great place to find and get a mentor. If you don’t tick the boxes it doesn’t mean you are lost. Work on the things that you are lacking and realise that most people will overlook your lack of skills and experience for a bit more passion.

Make the ask

If the potential mentor is worthy and you are a worthy candidate then it’s time to ask them to be your mentor.

  • Don’t be a crazy fanboy of girl. Don’t ask for the person to “be your mentor” right off the bat. It too big of an ask at the first meeting. Get to know them first.
  • Ask for an initial meeting. Something informal, over coffee maybe. Remember to keep it to less than an hour. Come with questions that you’re prepared to ask, but let the conversation flow. This is the best place for you to check out if they are going to be a good fit for you. If all looks good Ask if they would be willing to mentor you.
  • After that initial meeting don’t forget to drop a thank you note to the potential mentor

Don’t ask a yes man

This is a side note to the ask. You don’t want someone who will agree with you all the time. Difference is good. You want someone who will compliment the skills you have and the behavioural style that you have. For more info on this check out our blog posts on DISC. D.I.S.C. The best person to mentor you is one who understands you and brings complimentary knowledge and skills.

Have more than one

In our self care cast we spoke about the need to have multiple people keep you accountable. Similarly no one person will have all the answers. Seek out a few people who can speak into different aspects of your life. Career, family, personal, faith, future. Some people see this as having a board of advisors for your life. They don’t need to all be at the same time. In this case though having more than one person is great.

Give back (be a mentor for others)

If you have been a youth worker for at least 5 years you should be seeking out new youth workers that you can mentor. If you had a new person every year and they went on to mentor other youth workers the numbers grow exponentially. As a sector we would have the most well supported staff ever. We need this so much as most youth workers will bail on the job before they make 5 years. A bit more support will go a very long way.

We challenge you to seek out worthy mentee. It doesn’t have to be someone in your organisation… just someone in the sector.

To support the podcast, donate here!

Conclusion

Mentoring doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. Great mentors can come in and out of your life at the weirdest times and that is ok. If you don’t have a mentor get one. If you have been in the field for five years or more we challenge you to be mentoring new youth workers. We know this is going to help you and the youth sector as a whole.

Stay frosty.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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7 signs you need more supervision

7 signs you need more supervisionYou need more supervision!

When we tell people what we do at Ultimate Youth Worker and that youth workers need more supervision we often hear “But I get supervision at work?”. When we unpack this with staff members what they mean is that their boss knows something about their caseload or program and occasionally allows them to do some professional development. When we ask how often they get this supervision most say that it is sporadic at best. 

In the AYAC National Youth Work Snapshot 2013 a survey of youth workers showed that 8.4% of surveyed youth workers had never had a supervision session and around 51.7% receive it less than once every three months. As an industry that claims professional status this is appalling. It is no wonder that the sector in Australia turns over staff at 23% every year. Supervision is important to staff retention. The most unfortunate part of this is that the average youth worker doesn’t know what a good supervision framework looks like and so they do not see a problem until it is too late. With this at the forefront of our minds here are the 7 signs that you are not getting enough supervision.

Apply for individual supervision today

  1. You are bored at work. One of the most damaging things that can happen to a youth worker in their role is boredom. I know what you are thinking. How can I be bored when I am up to my eyeballs in trying to meet KPI’s. When we meet youth workers for external supervision one of the biggest issues we see is that they are not being challenged. At least not in the right ways. We all need to be stretched just a little bit to be our best self. We need to try new things. We need to find new solutions. If you do the same thing day in and day out you get bored. If you are bored in your role you need more supervision.
  2. You see supervision as punishment rather than development. Maidment & Beddoe (2012) believe that supervision must be placed at the core of professional development for staff, “We want to place supervision at the heart of professional development, which is career-long and where, via diverse learning activities, practitioners refine and augment their knowledge, develop skills, and undertake supervision to enhance critically reflective practice”. If you see it as a chore in which you will be rebuked for doing the wrong thing rather than encouraged towards best practice then you need more supervision.
  3. Your boss only talks about tasks in ‘supervision’ sessions. If like most youth workers your boss is giving you their version of supervision which most likely is checking in that you are completing all your tasks then you are not getting supervision. You are getting the administration part of good supervision. Making sure your cases are going well and your paperwork is done is only a small part of it. Tasks take up less than a third of good supervision practice. Hence you need more supervision.
  4. You have less than one hour once a fortnight. Best practice in supervision says you should be getting at least one hour of reflective supervision every two weeks. If you are not getting the opportunity to develop you as a person and as a practitioner as well as to deal with the admin side of your job then you are not developing as a youth worker. This takes more than one session a month or God forbid one a year. Supervision takes time, but it also pays dividends. In our experience, for every hour spent in supervision it gives you an ROI of 24 hours of exceptional practice.
  5. You have started to look for a new job. You don’t necessarily hate the job you have but you are starting to feel that if you don’t move on the job will eat you alive. This sense of needing to begin a career search is often where we see most of our clients. Either they or their manager refer them on in an attempt to keep them going. But its hard to stop the Titanic sinking with a bucket. In short if you have started to look for a new job it may be too late. This is always a clear sign you need more supervision.
  6. You are not up to date with youth work theory and practice. One of the key reasons for youth work supervision is to keep up to date with best practices and current research. If you are not getting this then you are not getting supervision. If you are not being moulded into a better youth worker every session then something is not right. Your supervisor must grow your knowledge and help you to critically reflect.
  7. You don’t remember the last time supervision looked like this. If your supervision seems lacking after reading this you are not alone. most youth workers we speak to feel the same way. Most managers and team leaders wish they could provide this level of support too. The key is too recognise it and move forward. If you feel like you need more supervision then get it. If your organisation won’t provide it Then get an external supervisor who will.

If you have read this post and you are now wondering what to do then we suggest you look at the links throughout the post as they are a rich source of wisdom in this area. If you can’t find a supervisor in your organisation that is able to provide good supervision then you really only have a few options. Stay and suck it up. Stay and find an external supervisor. Leave the organisation you are currently at for something better. Unfortunately, the stats would say they are few and far between.

At Ultimate Youth Worker we want to see a well supported youth sector. It is why we began back in 2012 and why we started providing supervision from day one. If you need a benchmark then use the resources on this site. If you want us to supervise you we do face to face in Melbourne and Skype throughout the world. Our biggest wish though is that your organisation will provide you with the best supervision.

Apply for individual supervision today

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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14 online tools youth workers need to use

14-online-toolsOnline tools you need

We live in a time of myth and legend. Apparently Youth workers are mystical creatures who need little money or time to effect massive changes… At least that seems to be the neoliberal view of us. Another myth is that we are all hip and cool with mad computer skills. I admit to having spent my fair share of time on an Xbox or play station over the years but that is the level I play at. A few years ago I was affectionately know in my team as the IT guy because I knew how to use Microsoft Outlook and use our reporting system. Most youth workers are tech novices. So we thought it would be good to have a list of online tools every youth worker should have access to. Most of these can be accessed by a smart phone, tablet or the dreaded PC. So if your service still chains you to your desk you can still use them… But I would say you need to speak to management about moving to portable devices 🙂

Evernote

Evernote online toolEvernote is one of the great online tools for organising all of your thoughts. It is like having a notebook in your pocket that you can put ideas into quickly and easily without needing a pen and paper. You can arrange your notes into ‘Notebooks’ to easily combine relevant ideas together. It takes pictures, adds weblinks, allows you to set reminders and even draw pictures. If you’re like me and have ideas about many topics and you have scrap paper or multiple notpads everywhere this program is for you.

https://evernote.com

You can have it on two devices for free.

Dropbox

Dropbox online toolI was presenting off site last week when the USB I had my presentation on died. Completely fried. I almost went into a melt down. What was I going to do. Enter Dropbox. I called a colleague and had them drop the presentation into our Dropbox and with the help of the internet gods it was there when I logged in. Dropbox is a cloud based storage space where you can upload and download all manner of digital documents at the touch of a button. The free version gives you 2GB to use which is more than enough for most of us. Never be caught out again with great online tools!

https://www.dropbox.com/

Cloud based so all you need is an internet connection

Canva

Canva online toolIf you are like me you are graphically challenged. I cant draw and I struggle to use tools to get beautiful flyers out of my head and onto paper. A former student put me on to Canva, online tools for those of us who are graphically challenged that is literally already set up for us. Need a flyer for a program… Done. A Picture for Facebook about your event…Done. Literally any visual marketing you need all available at the click of a mouse.

www.canva.com

Won’t replace your marketing team, but its part way there.

Adobe Colour Wheel

Colour wheel online toolOur good friends at www.nourishingmedia.com put us on to this one. Being graphically challenged it also bodes that we are colour challenged. yellow goes with everything right??? If you need some help in this department whether for flyers, presentations or anything else you can think of Adobe Colour Wheel provides a template to help you choose colour combinations.

https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/

Since using this more of our flyers are able to be read.

Inspiration

inspiration online toolIf you are a visual person you know all about mind mapping. Its an amazing way of getting thoughts out of your head and into some semblance of order. If you like lists a jumble of circles on a page makes no sense at all. Inspiration solves our communication problem. It takes either a list or a mind map and converts it for the other. I mind map when I am dreaming and visioning and then I click the button and I have a list of tasks to complete.

http://www.inspiration.com

This is gold. If you need some inspiration to get things out of your head this is it.

Prezi

Prezi online toolIf I have to sit through another presentation by someone who has just found Microsoft Powerpoint or Apples Keynote I may just explode. Boring presentations on basic themes with too many swishes, lets be honest we’ve all been there. Prezi takes the hard work out of designing a slide deck that looks good and has animation with its online tools. Some really cool templates with fill in fields turn a lackluster presentation into a wow instilling performance.

https://prezi.com/

Cloud based and downloadable files make this a great tool for presentations.

Psychdrugs

Psychdrugs online toolMore and more young people seem to experience mental health issues that need medication. When doing intake forms I would regularly hear the names of medications that I had no idea about. I’m not a pharmacist. What they do, what dosage is high or low, the common names and much more is at your fingertips with Psychdrugs. Easy to use and with most mental health medications listed this is a top tool.

I have used this since 2008 and have not been disappointed.

The Google Platform

google-logo-1200x630I have only recently been introduced to the amazing array of programs that google has in its arsenal. We all know the search engine is great and may even have a Gmail email account, but there is so much more to their online tools. spreadsheets, word processing, calendars, groups, hangouts, translate… The list goes on. If you are looking for free and amazing usability then the Google platform has it all.

www.google.com

 There is a reason people benchmark themselves against Google.

iTunesU

iTunesU online toolKeeping yourself educated is essential to great youth work practice. You should get more qualified than you are right now. If you cant commit to a course of study for some reason right now then iTunesU might be the thing for you. Download a podcast style uni course for free and listen in your car or on the train. There are hundreds of great courses that will help you become a great youth worker.

http://www.apple.com/au/education/itunes-u/

I just finished listening to UC Berkeley Sociology 101 course…Fantastic

Survey Monkey

Surveymonkey online toolMost services struggle to get feedback from their young people and when you stick a paper survey in their hand it usually ends in the bin. Survey Monkey is a free tool that alows you to create great surveys in minutes and send them via email, facebook, whatever system you want. The best bit is it aggregates all the data. You just need to read it.

https://www.surveymonkey.com

The free tool limits the size and type of surveys, but unless you do a lot its fine.

Kindle

kindle online toolIf you read a lot then you probably use Kindle. Bring all your books, journal articles, ebooks together in one space and get reading on the go. If you travel a bit it means you don’t have to pack heavy books in your bag. I struggle with reading on screens sometimes however you can deal with that for the ease of use and access to a huge library of content merely a click away. The kindle app for iPad is also a great investment.

Best for reading on the go.

Bitly

bitly online toolIf you send emails or use facebook you have probably sent a link before. Most people just cut and paste and then you end up with lines of nonsense which are the link. Bitly can shorten the link into something much more manageable. It also has the added functionality of allowing you to see who clicks on the links and from where. Some features are paid but you don’t really need them if you are just shortening links.

https://bitly.com

If you don’t have analytics for your website users you need them.

Trello

Trello online toolI am new to Trello but it has already significantly changed how I work. Trello lets you create separate boards for projects and then populate the boards with lists. Each list then gets cards. If you were doing a project you set up a board, Add topics to be done and then add list of steps under each topic. We use it for everything at Ultimate Youth Worker tracking workflow, developing podcasts, our intranet, you name it.

https://trello.com

I wish I had this when I was studying, particularly group assignments

Slide Share

Slideshare online toolIf you create slide decks for young people why not put them on the internet so others can see them. It promotes your organisation and yourself and could end up helping people all around the world. Slideshare has become for slideshows what youtube is for videos. There is a myriad of information out there for us to use as well.

http://www.slideshare.net

Every presentation you give should go on here


If you begin to use these online tools you will find that your productivity increases and your time stuffing around decreases. You will also begin to do marketing of your programs better and by default have better engagement with your young people. Some of this will feel a little backwards when you start. Learning a new skill takes time. Pick one and start using it today.

Would you add any others?

 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast

Podcast 008: How do I become a youth worker?

Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast
Help us keep the podcast going by donating a few dollars to the running costs.

How to become a youth worker

Our podcast this week is an audio version of our blog post “How do I become a youth worker“? Over the years we have had hundreds of people speak to us, email us, message us on Facebook and even get their parents to reach out to us to ask us the best way to become a youth worker. Honestly, I get asked this question so much that I have decided to put it into a podcast for prosperity sake… and so I had somewhere to point people when they ask. I say this so often it has become a bit of a spiel so stay with me and by the end you will have a clear guide on how to become a youth worker.

It is small easy steps that help you to become a youth worker. All you have to do is:

  1. Why do you want to become a youth worker?
  2. Understand your values
  3. Know what type of youth work you want to do
  4. Volunteer
  5. Read
  6. Go to training
  7. Network
  8. Get an education
  9. Make the most of placement opportunities
  10. and never ever stop learning.

Take this list and work through all the tips and we guarantee you will become an awesome youth worker. It is a process. You need to take little steps in the right direction.

If you really want to be a solid youth worker that has some career longevity then starting right and getting some support while you do this is so important. Get a person who can mentor you through this process. Someone who has been in the sector for at least five years. When you finally become a youth worker get some good supervision and work for agencies that will look out for you.

Help us keep the podcast going by donating a few dollars to the running costs.

Do you think we missed anything???

Let us know what we need to add by emailing us.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Career Development

Podcast Episode 007: Career Development

Career Development
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One of the biggest concerns youth workers have about the job is the lack of opportunity to move up the pecking order. Most youth work agencies are rather small or they are a niche within a larger service such as health organisations, education or larger non government conglomerates. This leads youth workers to feel that their career options are severely limited.

There is also an erroneous thought that your organisation is meant to look out for you. That they spend time and effort developing you as a person and as a professional to take the next step in your career. The fact of the matter is that if you are not looking at developing your career it is likely that no one else is either.

Career Development

Start by asking yourself “what position, role or job do I want in 5 years”? 5 years can seem like a long time but if you need some new qualifications or some experience it could take you that long to get it. When you have worked out what type of role you might like its time to hit the job boards. Download 3-5 position descriptions for the roles you might like. You want to audit those positions for the Skills, Traits, Abilities, Experience and Qualifications they are asking candidates to have.

Download our template here Skills Audit

Once you have completed the Audit of position descriptions you need to start breaking the results down for yourself. The easiest place to begin is by asking yourself “Do I have the qualifications I need for the job I want“? This is a question of the depth and breadth of your qualifications. How skilled are you in your area of expertise for example: youth work. Do you hold a certificate that took you 6 months or a Masters which took you 5+ years to get? How broad is your expertise? Is it just in the one field or do you have qualifications in many areas.

Download our Qualifications_Depth and Breath template here

Check out Aaron’s Example here

What experience do you bring to the job you are after? Do you have relevant employment experience? Have you held similar roles? Have you volunteered? Remember when it comes to career development experience is important but more passion trumps experience almost every time.

Check out you local Job sites:

www.jobseeker.org.au

www.ethicaljobs.com.au

www.seek.com.au

If you are not networking you are standing still. Networking is the second most important career development skill you must have (the first is self care). Are you a member of Peak Bodies or Industry Groups? Are you involved with your Local Youth Work Networks? If not you should be!!! You should also be a member of LinkedIn.com (come and find me when you are signed up).

To support the podcast, donate here!

Conclusion

If you want a long and successful career in youth work the only person who can help you do it is you. Spend time planning and doing the hard yards to get yourself there, but make sure those things are the right things. Work on the areas which will give you the best rewards. Most of all keep going in the sector. We need qualified and motivated people to lead the charge.

If you liked this cast don’t forget to subscribe to us on iTunes

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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What is Youth Work?

Podcast 006: What is Youth Work Part Two

What is Youth Work?
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What is Youth Work?

In our previous cast “What is Youth Work – 002” we looked at the broadest overview of youth work. We spoke to the most broad understanding of the youth sector and the term youth work that is surrounding the sector. We also looked at the broadest youth work definition that we use at Ultimate Youth Worker. If you are paid or volunteer in your capacity to provide support to young people as your primary concern you are doing youth work.

Recap of previous podcast “What is Youth Work – 002

  • The main reason for a youth work definition = Professional status
  • In Defence of Youth Work = Emancipatory and democratic youth work that is voluntary and starts with their concerns (link to open Letter)
  • National Youth Agency = Non-formal education in various forms (link to NYA)
  • RMIT = Youth work is about Justice and Human Rights (link to RMIT)
  • YACWA = Youth work is about providing formal and informal support to give young people a voice in their community (link to YACWA)
  • YACVIC = Working for and with young people, young people are your primary concern (link to YACVIC)
  • European commission on youth = Opportunity for young people to shape their own future (link to EU Youth).
  • Department of Children and Youth Affairs = Youth work is complimentary to formal education (link to DCYA)
  • Judith Bessant = Engaging with young people as our primary constituency in their social context
  • Infed = A history of youth works development (link to Infed)

Today we want to speak about the youth work definition that is most accepted in Australia.

In Australia we have been debating the core work of youth workers for decades. The earliest clear definition of youth work as a distinct industry came through the Jasper Declaration 1977.

The most current youth work definition used within Australia is from the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition 2013. After a consultation that brought together thoughts from all over Australia a whole day was devoted to defining youth work in Australia at the Australian Youth Affairs Conference 2013. The best part of 100 youth workers argued and debated for the day to craft a definition for our sector. After the conference there were a few more consultations and the definition was set.

A caveat to this – There are many in Australia who do not agree with the definition. Particularly, many from the North believed that the professionalisation debate was overshadowing good youth work. That the Southern and Eastern states had hijacked the youth work definition for their own. Funnily enough it is those states which have Degree programs.

Thought to end on

Youth work in Australia is still a contested site. The question of qualification is still at the forefront of the debate. From volunteer to PhD there are many who call themselves youth workers whether qualified or not. Another contested area is whether people are paid or not. There are thousands of people who volunteer to work with young people across Australia without who the youth sector would be considerably understaffed. Until we clarify as a sector what we mean by the term “Youth Work” we will be at the mercy of other definitions. We need to clarify professional paid youth work from volunteer work and other forms of youth support. This clarification does not need to reduce the amazing contribution of people to the sector, but it does need to focus our attentions.

To support the podcast, donate here!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Ultimate Youth Worker Podcast

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Ultimate Youth Worker

Podcast 005: Who is Ultimate Youth Worker?

Ultimate Youth Worker
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Who is Ultimate Youth Worker?

Today’s podcast is a quick one to answer some of the questions people have about Ultimate Youth Worker as an organisation.

Youth work is a tough gig. Its probably why you have joined with over 1000 youth workers from all over the world who visit us every month. We truly care about you and your career.

We know that you want to be the best youth worker you can be. We know you want training. You want the right knowledge. You want support from management. We also know that you probably aren’t getting any of this either. Around 10% of youth workers get these things. The remaining 90% range from mediocre to down right criminal levels of support. It’s no wonder 21% of workers leave the youth sector every year.

Ultimate Youth Worker is an Australian company devoted to strengthening youth workers locally, nationally and internationally. We provide practical support, ongoing professional development and training opportunities for those working with young people between the ages of 12 and 25 and their agencies to build and maintain longevity in the field. Our vision is to see highly trained youth workers experiencing personal and professional development opportunities to grow a strengthened professional youth sector.

To support the podcast, donate here!

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

More Posts - Website

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