One of the most noble and necessary careers in the world is that of the social worker. Oftentimes, they dedicate their own lives to helping others, bearing the burden of their clients’ circumstances while going largely unappreciated and underpaid in the process. It is truly a profession for a select individual, and we caught up with one of those individuals, albeit a beautiful one at that. Say hello to Simona Gass. Simona sits down with Bound by Ink to discuss why even having a Ph.D from the University of Vienna didn’t matter at the workplace because negative stereotypes prevailed. She’s candid here about doing her part to change social stigmas to improve society and happily explains how her work helps to make the world a little bit better.
Text by Rich Coyle
Location: Vienna, Austria
Photos by Andy Hartmark
There are many revered people in the field of social work. No matter the sector, social work requires a patience, understanding, and dedication that not many of us are capable of. Often tied with social advocacy and reform, social workers work to improve the lives of marginalized and misunderstood populations, whether it’s through clinical practice, research, teaching, or inspiring others to simply follow in their footsteps. To say that a career in this field is demanding would be an understatement of epic proportions. For that very reason, it is often thought that social work is not a career you find — it’s a career that finds you. Those chosen individuals who rise up to this undertaking often find that no other career field could ever fulfill them in the way that social work does. Ask Vienna social worker Simona Gass, she’ll tell you about it. Simona, like others in her field, works within that difficult gray area of society, a place where she often finds herself navigating the lives of troubled youth in a sea of circumstances that would otherwise see them drown. She employs a hands-on approach, helping to build a foundation that will give these troubled youths a second chance, and she has done so with great success.
Obviously, her own personality and effective understanding of others have been her strengths in this demanding profession, but one could infer that while many of the troubled youths she deals with have been judged negatively by society, Simona, or “Simi” as she’s known, has also felt the stigma of society’s side-eye. A heavily tattooed model in her spare time, Simi has been forced to cover her tattoos to appease her previous employers in the social work arena, as they deemed her look “inappropriate” for her responsibilities. Never mind the fact that Simi has a Ph.D from the University of Vienna, her qualifications could not outweigh what society saw from the outside. Of course, choosing to have tattoos is not the same in gravity as some of the afflictions, ailments, and unfortunate circumstances felt by those she works with, but it does give her a bit of insight to how difficult it is for them to overcome social stigmas.
While her initial forays into social work were made difficult by her employers, fast-forward four years later, and Simi is fulfilled anew, excelling and extremely happy with her current place of work. “Hopefully, the job market will get better and companies will hire more tattooed people and bring them on board. Regardless, people should be hired because they are qualified and can be the best person for the job,” says the Austrian bombshell. In direct contrast, when Simi isn’t guiding the way for Vienna’s troubled youth, she’s getting booked as a tattooed model. Coupled with her career as a social worker, this tattooed model is someone who is quite extraordinary. Meet the incredible Simona Gass.
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