Turning passion into profession

Female student sitting at her laptop

As students approach the end of the academic journey the question ‘what’s next’ often sparks a sense of excitement and curiosity. It’s a time filled with possibilities where opportunities like student placements or volunteering, are useful tools to gain practical experience, personal growth, and career direction. For Annabelle, a university student from Geelong, this was a pathway into the world where her passion for social work and disability could flourish and make a real difference in the community. 

During her third year of university, Annabelle went on a search for a student placement. She had always had an interest in working within the disability sector and after meeting with the team leaders of Recreation and Programs at Gateways she quickly determined that it was a ‘perfect fit’.

Annabelle was amazed by the diverse range of services and the ‘different moving parts’ within Gateways. She played a variety of key roles, ‘I worked on the Carers Project which was a grant that aims to allow respite for carers.’ As well as working on the successful Curlewis Golf Day in 2023 and developing proposals for future events.

Like any new workplace and environment, Annabelle’s placement at Gateways brought its share of challenges. She shares, ‘Completing placement can be quite challenging as you are working full time weeks, along with any paid employment outside of the 9-5 day. The most important thing I had found throughout placement was prioritising self-care.’

Annabelle’s time at Gateways was a time of significant personal and professional development. She applied her academic knowledge in practical settings and gained a comprehensive understanding of the organisation. ‘Having the opportunity to put my knowledge into practice and being involved in various teams within Gateways,’ she says, allowed her to see where a social worker fits within the broader context of the operations.

Annabelle’s student placement at Gateways turned into a rewarding part-time role within the Recreation and Programs team, specifically contributing to the Social Connect program. She mentioned, ‘Placement at Gateways Support Services had definitely re-affirmed my passion for working within the disability sector. It was a wonderful experience.’

Ebony, Recreation team leader added, ‘I  am so thrilled that Belle has chosen to work with Gateways after completing her placement. Belle’s exceptional passion, unwavering empathy, and dedication to person-centred practice, make her not only an invaluable addition to our organisation but also a shining example of someone who wholeheartedly embodies Gateways’ core values.’

Now, Annabelle spends her time working the weekday recreation and skill development activities for adults with disabilities. Her advice for anyone considering completing a student placement, ‘Gateways is a super supportive and inclusive organisation. I would recommend others who are considering a placement within the disability sector to reach out to Gateways. I have learned so much throughout my time and I am very motivated and eager to keep expanding my knowledge.

To explore student placement opportunities at Gateways and begin your own journey, visit Student Placements at Gateways.

For more information on our Recreation and Programs and how they benefit the community, click here.