*This is a collaborative post
Have you ever thought about working in the youth sector?
Youth work can be one of the most rewarding and challenging careers you can pursue. It entails a lot of responsibilities and moving parts, but the difference you can make on an individual level can be incredibly fulfilling.
Youth workers are responsible for providing support, guidance and assistance to young people aged 12-25 years old. They recognise the youth as both an active participant in society and a lifelong learner, assisting them in their journey toward personal growth.
There are many reasons why you should consider a career in youth work. In the list below are some of the most compelling ones.
1) Shaping the youth is fulfilling
As a youth worker, you are in a unique position to help young people grow into their best selves.
Youth workers aren’t only needed in a traditional education setting. They can be found in several settings such as community centres, shelters, hospitals, and even juvenile prisons.
From one-on-one mentoring to leading group activities, youth workers provide support in a variety of different facets of child development. This includes:
- Self-esteem and identity
- Respect for others
- Positive mental health
- Analytical abilities
- Unique strengths
If the idea of making a real difference in the lives of others sounds rewarding to you, then a career in youth work might be the perfect fit.
2) You gain interpersonal skills
Working with kids isn’t a walk in the park. For youth workers, this is doubly so, as they may have to work in difficult situations with kids who have been neglected, abused or suffer from severe mental health disorders.
No matter the background of the youth in question, youth workers must be able to adapt and handle these different situations effectively. They’ll need to have a deep understanding of the young people they work with—their culture, their upbringing, their values, and how to best communicate with them.
This requires excellent interpersonal skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively, establish rapport, and resolve conflict fast. Furthermore, they should also be able to act as the emotional and personal support system while fulfilling the role of the leader.
That said, this can be a tall order for novice facilitators. But with online learning programs like TSA providing relevant youth work courses, you can be equipped with both the theoretical framework and practical knowledge of the job to help you excel in the field.
3) Youth workers are always in demand
No matter where you live, there will always be a need for youth workers. People who are trained to handle the youth sector, particularly those who can empathise with the disenfranchised, are always sought after in cities across the UK, Australia and the world.
When it comes to finding work as a youth worker, there’s a large array of options to choose from. To give an example, some places where youth workers are often employed include the following:
- Local charities
- Social service centres
- Juvenile facilities
- Human rights NGOs
- Faith organisations (i.g. churches)
4) It’s a challenging and ever-changing field
If you’re the type of person who prefers a challenge and is always looking for new opportunities to grow, then a career in youth work is perfect for you.
The field of youth work is a dynamic one. You’ll be interacting with different groups of young people daily, each with their own unique set of dreams, tribulations and aspirations.
Not only that, but you’ll also get to work on a deep and personal basis for each young person you come across. You’ll get to see them grow and change over time, which can be immensely rewarding.
Youth work can be demanding, challenging and occasionally thankless. You’ll often have to wear multiple hats, from undertaking administrative tasks to organising events to being a shoulder to cry on.
But for those who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, it’s a good price to pay.
5) You have a versatile career path
A career in youth work can take you down many different paths. Some youth workers may choose to focus on working with at-risk youth, while others may prefer to work in schools or community centres. Some may want to focus on research or policy development.
Generally speaking, specialising in youth work also exposes you to specialities like mental health, psychology, sociology, education, and effective communication. These are all highly beneficial skills to have, as they can help you navigate socio-cultural areas more effectively and help connect with other people as a whole.
Moreover, working with the youth is not a dead-end job. The skills you acquire during your stint as a youth worker can easily be transferred to other career opportunities, should you wish to pivot.