As a social worker for Headspace, a free youth-focused health service for young people, Ella Baker-Condon has been able to help some of society’s most at-risk and in-need people.
“Headspace provides that more one-on-one work that I’m really interested in,” says Ella.
“There’s a real opportunity to reduce the stigma around mental health, to normalise it a little more and provide strategies to help.”
But while she’s in her ideal career now, it took Ella a bit of time to figure out what future was the right one for her.
When she was in her last semester of a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Police Studies), she realised that police work might not be the best fit for her – which inspired her to study a Masters in Social Work.
I didn’t feel like I could make the positive change in the police force that I could from the opportunities social work can provide, explains Ella.
“I wanted to work with youth – particularly those more disadvantaged and stuck within a cycle within the system.”
“Rather than keep them in that system, I saw social work as a way of helping them get out of it.”
Ella’s time at University was vital in helping her develop the skills and connections that would help her in the future.
“Having the ability to manage a workload and work independently and have that self-determination and motivation to complete something that’s important to me,” says Ella.
“Then there’s the practical element of university where they provide you placements and give you the opportunity to really implement the learnings in supported environment.”
When it comes to advice, Ella tells students that – like her – you don’t need to know absolutely everything and have your career mapped out before you apply.
Look at different options. You don’t necessarily need to know what you want to do going into it, advises Ella.
“I think that’s something that I really discovered – I sort of found where I wanted to go along the way throughout the degree.”
As for what’s next, Ella’s recently become an accredited social worker, which will ensure her growth as a social worker.
“That means that I can be a Medicare provider, and allows me to see people on Mental Health Care plans.”
“I think that it’s important to keep developing, so that you don’t stop after your degree.”
“My university education really encouraged further growth and development and learning through different pathways.”