As someone who came from a creative writing background, I never thought I’d head into social work instead as an adult. Yet I was still drawn to it, especially upon reflecting on my life during the pandemic. I moved back home to Indonesia and although I was blessed to have a stable marketing job during that time, I realised that working a 9-5 didn’t fulfil my interests and a company that saw me as disposable wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of in the long-term. I knew then that I needed to find a new path.

Finding a new path

I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to do social work. All I knew was that I enjoyed helping people and that I was in the privileged position to do so. I knew that I’d enjoyed working at Nightline while I was completing my undergraduate degree. I knew that I’d loved being around LGBTQ+ people, mental health advocates, and other likeminded communities, hence why I did a number of volunteer work a few years back. It gave me a chance to both connect with them on a deep, emotional level and enabled me to build my own resilience and community over time, in addition to helping those who are vulnerable and lost.


But though I was sure of this decision, it also brought about a number of doubts. Social work is extremely uncommon in my home country, so many people had no idea what I was talking about when I told them I was going to do a Masters in Social Work.

With this revelation, came a barrage of questions: what does this mean for my future career? Am I going to be staying in the UK permanently? Are you really sure this is what you want to do for the rest of your life? Being truthful, I don’t know how to properly answer any of these. Yes, I’d love to settle in the UK. No, I don’t know if I want to do this for the rest of my life. But I do want to do it now, so that’s what I’ll focus on. I’m lucky to have a supportive network and that no one ever truly doubted my decision, but it’s tough not being able to tell them my next steps because so much of it is still unknown even to me.

Fake it until you make it

I’ve just completed my first term as a Social Work student. I’d thrown myself into the deep end with this one and it was a struggle to keep afloat, especially since all my course mates have ample work experience in social care or did relevant undergraduate degrees such as psychology or early education. They seemed to have a stronger grasp of the tasks at hand. As lovely as they all were, I couldn’t help but compare myself to them constantly. I felt deskilled and hopeless. It was impostor syndrome on steroids.

But then I got to know them, hung out with them outside of class, and I found out that everyone feels inferior to some degree compared to everyone else. It was as if we all equally felt as though we had to fake it until we made it. A pivotal moment was when they were impressed by my creative writing degree and complimented my writing skills. They thought they were a massive plus in a social work career. It was incredibly relieving and reassuring to know that we’re all in the same boat.


As I’ve learned on this course, to be a social worker is to be resilient and resilience is like a plant—it is finite and always needs to be nurtured. It was an eye-opening revelation. It made me realise how it was not just the vulnerable person that needs support and resources, but it is crucial that the carers- and soon to be carers like me and my course mates- receive help as well. I now realise that I should not let my anxiety influence my performance and capabilities as a social worker.

My teachings thus far have taught me that nothing is ever black and white, but we have to assess the users’ situation to the best of our abilities. Whilst it is important to read between the lines sometimes, it is best not to jump to conclusions with my judgments. It is so important that I trust myself, recognise my own strengths and weaknesses, and communicate with confidence so that I’m able to make informed decisions not only for myself, but to those who need my help.

University of Birmingham’s campus

Dev studied Creative Writing and Publishing for their undergraduate degree and spent a few years working as a content writer for a number of multinational companies in the UK and Indonesia. They now study MA Social Work at the University of Birmingham and work as a postgraduate student ambassador.