New place, new people – gaining experience

Published in Features on 23 Jun 2023

A post on work placement at Iriss by Sydney Oosterhoff

Coming into Iriss was a big step up from my normal, high school life – suddenly I was thrown into doing actual work work. It’s something I’m happy I did, the insight I’ve gained is better than any other work I could do at this age. Iriss is a charity that welcomed me here and gave me opportunities to see how the world works in a way that I could handle: simple and bite-sized.

I’ll be honest, doing a work placement is something I never would have thought of doing before now. I’m glad I have, though, the experience has helped me become more confident with myself, which is difficult as you would probably know. I have challenged myself to talk with people older and wiser than I, listened to others talking about their knowledge and experience and finally (this has been the most difficult for me) put myself out there to show my own work and opinions. 

I have found Iriss to be a great safe space to make my own mistakes and grow. This has been extremely helpful, otherwise I would be so very lost right about now. 

Four photographs take from the Edinburgh to Glasgow train
Sydney's journey from Edinburgh to Glasgow by train

My first day – Monday – was definitely the least challenging, even with the whole ‘what am I going to do, new place, new people’ thing I had going on. I met Sam Ella and Dee Fraser in the first morning, and they managed to ease me into the structure of the coming week fairly easily (these guys have an amazing sense of humour, which definitely helped). I also video called Stuart Muirhead, and went through the basis of what Iriss is, why it is important and what they are doing. At the end of the day, I attended a virtual meeting and sent down my opinions to Stuart. Overall, it was a day to adjust and test the workload I was given. I also learnt what a chronology is. 

Paper notebook and Iriss guest key fob
'Iriss guest' key fob

I arrived at the office the next day slightly more prepared, and was thrown into a casual (but important) meeting with Dee, Sam and Stuart. This meeting lasted less than an hour, and gave me time afterwards to go through the functions on the computer I was given for the week. After my lunch break, I had another video call to meet Robert Sanders who I talked to for a bit and got an assignment: a short literature review on ‘the new suggested Care Service for Scotland’. After the meeting, Sam also let me give my opinions on the applicants for an upcoming job in Iriss. 

On Wednesday I had a dress code since I was going to be physically present for a larger meeting about Social Work and Social Care. I was decently nervous, but in the end I just took notes and casually talked to new and interesting people. The rest of the day was spent working on my review and completing my opinions on applicants. 

Thursday was the day I was looking forward to most all week: I got to travel to Glasgow to visit one of the venues Key (supporting disabled people) was in. My job there was to see how social work and care was done in communities, and the opportunity was inspiring. Everyone there was so friendly and delightful, I was able to meet everyone and stayed for a good portion of the day. 

Eventually I got to the end of the week. On Friday, the plan was to have a ‘social media day’ and complete this blog post. This was also the day I finally sent in my literature review, which I had been working on the entire time (this is for you, Robert). 

To finish, I have enjoyed this work placement immensely. I have new skills and experience to use in the future, and memories I can look back on contentedly. Thank you, Iriss, for providing this chance to develop.