I am a mature student with a full-time job, who juggles familial responsibilities and part-time employment while completing the fourth year of the Bachelor of Social Work program at Ryerson University. The program requires the completion of 504 unpaid placement hours. I accepted the Outreach Coordinator remote placement position with Helping Hands App, a grassroots organization. Helping Hands connects youth to opportunities to become engaged in their communities through skill-building and community development initiatives and activities, lending their voice to committees and councils, exploring entrepreneurship and civic involvement. For more information on the organization, you can visit: helpinghandsapp.com
Having a remote position has been instrumental for my success in fulfilling the placement requirement of the BSW program. It has allowed me:
- To minimize additional travel time to and from placement as I work from home.
- Keep transportation costs from increasing (important as the work being done is unpaid)
- Stay connected with management and other staff of the organization through alternate means of communication i.e. conference calls, project collaboration tools, spreadsheet database hybrid’s, collaboration hub (company chatroom), email, google drive and online project boards.
- To communicate with youth and community organizations through email, phone calls, text messages
- Become familiar with online tools that would not be necessary in a face-to-face office environment
- Work independently, while still being closely connected to a team.
- Flexibility in scheduling, able to make adjustments to shifts when unexpected issues arise
- To complete required tasks regardless of location, with an internet connection (during the times when I am not at home)
Although there are many benefits to a remote placement, it is not without challenges which for me included:
- Responses to questions asked may not be immediate as flexibility in scheduling means other staff may not be online at the same time as you are.
- Not being able to get to know all members of the team.
Advice for Others
Overall, my involvement with the remote placement at Helping Hands App has been a positive experience in learning. I would recommend remote work to other students who have challenges with participating in strict time-bound activities. When considering this type of experience, it is important that the student be aware of the following:
- The work you have agreed to do is important to the organization
- Take initiative, be ready to share your ideas and observations about processes and procedures
- Ask questions if instructions or information provided is unclear
- Be available and ready to work during the time you have set
- Have open communication when you need to make changes to your schedule
- Remote work is still work – be mindful of overscheduling yourself and set downtime in your schedule