Postgrad Social Work a step forward for interpreter

Posted by NSWINTSTU on 6 March 2017

When Frankie Yue Zheng (pictured at centre, front row; at Uniting Harris Community Centre) decided to advance her career prospects with a higher education, becoming a social worker appealed for its natural transition from her job at the time.

“As a professional translator and interpreter, I see my work not only relying on language skills, but more importantly on human rights and social work values, to support vulnerable individuals and families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities to access services and support,” said Frankie.

Frankie was eligible to apply for the Australian College of Applied Psychology’s (ACAP) Master of Social Work (Qualifying) thanks to her Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting. She enrolled at the Sydney campus as an international student and graduated in 2016.

“I consider my undergraduate degree to be highly relevant to the social work profession in multicultural societies like Australia,” she said.

“ACAP was able to provide a course to fit my criteria – qualifying, postgraduate, less than two years in duration, and open to international students,” said Frankie.

“It was also very flexible in admission. Although I come from a non-social science background and may not have completed social science units, I was able to gain an offer from ACAP through a statement of my values, passion and experience working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) individuals in the community. ACAP is also conveniently located in the city.”

A job out of placement

A temporary job has resulted from the second of Frankie’s two placements. She successfully applied through an employment agency for a six-month part-time role at the City of Sydney, in its International Student Leadership and Ambassador (ISLA) program.

“My role is Community Programs Support Officer and my main duties include assisting with implementation and evaluation of the City’s ISLA program and on city-wide community events including the Living in Harmony Festival and Youth Week in the City. I work closely with community stakeholders to ensure processes and outputs respond to community needs and best practice,” Frankie said.

Frankie had been at placement with the City of Sydney, in its Social Policy and Programs team, under its City Life Division.

“My main role [at placement] was assisting with the project management of the ISLA program, which provides training, mentoring and practical experience to leaders in the international student community,” she said.

“This project resonated strongly with my experience as an international student in Sydney and as one of two ACAP international student delegates to the Council of International Student’s 2016 National Conference.”

Frankie’s ACAP course required 1,000 hours of field education during its latter stage. Her first placement was at the Uniting Harris Community Centre, a not-for-profit community support agency in Sydney’s inner city, where her language skills were an asset during face-to-face client contact.

“I was mainly responsible for assisting and supporting local groups and individuals through developing and implementing cultural, educational, recreational and social projects and events which aim to build community relationships while addressing community needs and issues,” she said.

Frankie describes her placements as “the most important component" of her course. As well as securing paid work at City of Sydney, she was approached about contract work at Uniting Harris Community Centre in the future.

Study with a community culture

With her studies complete, Frankie has fond memories of the close connections between faculty members and fellow students at ACAP.

“I cannot imagine being in any prestige university where professors and heads of the schools would be so accessible; who would have the time to answer your questions and constantly check on your learning progress. These benefits have had an extremely positive effect on my confidence and academic performance,” she said.

“ACAP not only taught me how to learn to work with others and to work with differences, but also provided a vital platform for international students like me to connect with local students outside of the classroom and to learn various interpersonal and communication skills that are not in the textbooks.”

ACAP is listed on the Jiaoyu Shewai Jianguan Xinxi Wang (JSJ) 'Study Abroad' website, which guides Chinese students to overseas institutions matching their field of interest.