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After 32 years as a social worker, it turned out that an internship at a hotel restaurant was what was needed to rejuvenate Heidi Damsted. Here, she utilized her skills in a new way, and now she's back in the social work profession.

Looking for jobs - 30. August 2023 - Camilla Bech Hornung

In January, Heidi Damsted and Sanne Lilja Thomas met at FTFa's office in Kolding. At that time, Heidi Damsted had been ill with stress for six months. But now she has registered as unemployed with the unemployment insurance fund and is ready to find a new job. That's why she meets Sanne Lilja Thomas. She is a job and career counselor at the unemployment insurance fund FTFa and also has a coaching education.

The two meet not just once, but three times.

"I have been a social worker since 1991. I have always enjoyed it and still do. But it's also tough. So I needed to try something different. I was curious if I could be utilized elsewhere with the skills I have," Heidi Damsted explains about her considerations when she first met Sanne Lilja in January.

Their meetings focus on what Heidi should do if she wants to apply outside her profession and what things are important to Heidi in her next job.

"On a board, we made a chart with my wishes and non-wishes. I had to fill it out myself, making me actively involved. I realized what I wanted more of and less of. It was great to visualize it and get it in writing, rather than just having it in my head," says Heidi Damsted.

Colleagues, clear leadership with freedom under responsibility, and working with relationships to other people are some of the things she wants more of. On the other hand, she wants a little less of the administrative part.

Used Skills in Another Industry

When you receive unemployment benefits, you have the opportunity to do an internship to get closer to a new job. Heidi takes this opportunity.

If what you love the most starts to wear you down, it might be good to take a break and return later in your career. A break can be clarifying as you look at your profession with fresh eyes. Sanne Lilja Thomas

For Heidi, this break becomes a four-week internship followed by a substitute position as a waiter at a hotel restaurant. Here, she talks to guests, serves, and clears tables.

"I was incredibly happy with it. I found out that I could use many of my social worker skills there too. It made being unemployed very easy because I spent my time on something I enjoyed. And I got the chance to try something in terms of a career change," says Heidi Damsted.

Gained New Energy

During the time Heidi Damsted is interning at the hotel, her friends and acquaintances tell her they can sense she's happy.

The internship gave me a lot of energy. People appreciated what I did for them. I used my skills like forming relationships with other people, maintaining an overview, and I could also use my systematic approach to work, Heidi Damsted

Heidi Damsted continues: "It was a really good experience. The positive feedback I received there gave me confidence in believing that I could get a job."

And she gets a new job. While she's working at the hotel, she sees a job posting from Assens Municipality in the children and family department. She has been working as a social worker there since May 1st.

An Important Picture

Back at the FTFa office in January, Heidi Damsted takes out her phone and snaps a picture of the chart on the board.

"When I think about the chart I filled out with Sanne, I've gotten a lot of what I wanted in my new job. I've never been as clear about what I want as I am now after meeting Sanne. I've saved the picture, and I look at it from time to time," says Heidi Damsted.

Becoming aware of what you're good at and what gives you energy is not only relevant when you want a new job.

"When you're unemployed, it's a good opportunity to stop and get clarity. But clarity is also important in terms of retaining a job. When you focus on what energizes you and what you're good at, you can better handle the daily grind – the tasks that are part of everyday work life for most people," says Sanne Lilja Thomas.

Whether Heidi Damsted remains in the social work profession for the rest of her working life remains to be seen. At least now she knows her skills can be used in multiple places.


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