Interview: Marilú Gasparo 

Today we talk to Jo about what it’s like to study social work and do the internship in the practical semester at ClubIn.

Hello Jo, thank you very much for agreeing to talk to us about your experiences at the university. My first question is: Why did you choose to study Social Work?

Actually, I wanted to study to become a teacher for years, but then shortly before graduation, I realized that what interested me most about the profession was how the students were doing and how I could support them and their families. That’s why I had no interest in teaching the same curriculum over and over again. Up until then, I had heard about the Social Work program in passing, but hadn’t considered it as a possibility for myself. When I read more about the course content and the diverse fields of work, I became curious. 

So, after graduating in 2020, I applied for Social Work and was accepted at the university in Munich.

Would you like to briefly tell us how the degree programme is structured?

The full-time programme comprises seven semesters and the part-time programme approx. 10-14 semesters. There are compulsory elective modules, e.g. fields of social work, psychology, law courses, educational science. These modules must therefore be attended, but within them the individual courses can be chosen freely according to time and content preferences. In this way, I was able to specialise in the areas that particularly interested me. The courses often discuss topics such as: Housing shortage, scarcity of resources, globalisation, risks for children and young people in our current society, poverty in old age, digitalisation, global crises such as the climate crisis, refugee and migration movements, consequences of the corona pandemic.

The challenges that affect us individually and as a society on a daily basis are so numerous and so significant that I need to hold onto hope that we, as the next generation of social workers, can make a meaningful difference with our work.

Indeed, meaningful tasks await you. Which semester are you currently in? Are you happy with your decision so far?

I’m currently in the fifth semester and very satisfied with my choice of study. I appreciate the ways of thinking and working in social work, and I identify with the values, ideals, and attitudes that many other social workers also have. It’s often inspiring to sit at a table in the courtyard on campus and have conversations with the students sitting across from me. The perspectives and ideas on so many topics are very similar.

What I particularly like is that there is almost a 100-hour internship in every semester and an entire practical semester. This way, I could use the short internships to find out in which areas of social work I would like to work later on, and what I don’t like as much. After the practical semester, everyone chooses a specialization area. Currently, there are five options available: Childhood, Youth, and Family; Integration and Exclusion; Social Management; Education, Culture, and Media; and Health.

Speaking of internships: you are about to complete an internship at ClubIn. How did you come up with the idea of doing an internship at ClubIn? How did you find out about ClubIn?

“I happened to learn about ClubIn rather accidentally. Just as I was considering where to do my semester internship, a friend handed me a flyer with offerings for women*, such as women’s shelters in Munich. I initially left the flyer lying around in my room and almost forgot about it. While tidying up, it caught my eye again. The name ClubIn stood out immediately, and then I discovered the ClubIn website. I really liked the many activities and outings, as well as their Instagram channel. So, I applied, met Alexa and Ulrike from ClubIn for an introductory interview, and that’s how I ended up here.

What luck for the ClubIn! What are your tasks during the internship? What have you enjoyed most so far? And is there anything that you find challenging?

My tasks are very diverse, and that’s exactly what suits me. I can help plan activities, such as ClubIn parties or workshops. This allows me to contribute my ideas and create posters or other materials on Canva, for example. Then I participate in the realisation, which means I’m at ClubIn in the evenings or on weekends during excursions. After the activities, the team reflects on what happened and plans new events. Public relations, such as promoting activities, is also a small part of my tasks and brings me a lot of joy.

Overall, I’m having a lot of fun here and it’s been a really great internship experience. Alexa and Ulrike have shown me a lot of trust from the start and have let me participate in pretty much everything, so I could contribute well. I think what pleases me the most is seeing how the theoretical planning and organization come to life through the club visitors, and how much they enjoy the evenings and activities.

How wonderful that you find your internship so enriching and that you’re so enthusiastic about it. Were there any moments during your internship that you found challenging?

Group outings can also be challenging because it’s difficult to keep track of who is where and how to best cater to everyone’s different needs and desires. It helps me knowing that all club visitors are adults and are partially responsible for themselves. 

The second major challenge, which I didn’t expect, is finding a certain work-life balance. There’s indeed a difference between working at the club in the evenings and spending time with friends in the evenings. Even though both are fun, I’m noticeably more tired after club nights.

What new things did you learn during your internship? What will be useful for you in your future career?

I have learned that I can be myself because in social work, you work with diverse people, and that’s why many different social workers are needed. So it’s totally okay and even good if I’m not very loud or super extroverted. I have also learned a lot about how I want to work in the future, for example, that I like to set and accomplish my own tasks, that I want to implement my own ideas and projects, and that I enjoy working with young adults and adults. I have learned how valuable a good team is, with whom I can talk about anything. So that when it comes to ideas and problems, everyone can brainstorm together to figure out what can help. I now also know that I want to be creative in the future and share the knowledge that can help others. Through the activities with ClubIn, I have once again realized how important social meeting places are, especially for certain target groups. I have seen how much club visitors can benefit from the activities. And I have realized that in the future, I want to learn even more about experiential education.

Wow, that’s a lot! Thank you very much for these valuable insights into your studies and your internship at ClubIn! We wish you all the best for your further studies and look forward to seeing you continue as a volunteer at ClubIn!

Translated by Joeline O’Reilly

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