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Need to Get Somewhere Fast

A Critical Examination of the Transition From Post-Secondary Education to Work

Need to Get Somewhere Fast critically explores the transition from post-secondary education to work - it seeks to complexify the dominant view of the transition from post-secondary education to work as a linear, distinct event that can be assessed through primarily financial indicators.  Complexifying our understanding of transition, as critical scholars/educators and critical practitioners, allows us to move beyond deficit-focused interventions and offers a more comprehensive understanding of how factors beyond the individual student constitute and constrain the transition experience.  With a more complex understanding of transition, post-secondary educators, students, employers, and researchers can consider the pressures on students to “get somewhere fast” and support transition processes that involve complex and interrelated factors.  

Need to Get Somewhere Fast is grounded in the narratives of social service workers.  Social service workers, practitioners who work with marginalized people in community-based, not-for-profit agencies, are a liminal group who face significant challenges, including tenuous work, vicarious trauma, and precarity.  Their narratives of navigating the neoliberal institutions of school and work highlight power relations, idealized expectations, and the experience of transition as an ongoing process.  Their narratives illustrate the importance of resistance, criticality, and exploring alternate discourses of what it means to successfully transition into a professional role. Need to Get Somewhere Fast puts more-than-human, relational, and performative ontologies to work to see what is possible, from a practical, ethical perspective, for educators and educational institutions.          


A unique and insightful perspective on the concept of transition from school to social service work. Filled with experiences and stories of social service workers, this book aims to guide individuals in viewing the transitional process as an ongoing, individualistic, and self-empowering one. Need to Get Somewhere Fast should captivate readers navigating their place in the demanding yet rewarding nature of social service work. 

Simran Notra

Addictions Counsellor

As someone who entered school with the goal to be seen as a professional and have my name on an office door; Meaghan Dougherty's book looks at how one actually defines success. The interviews she conducts show a common theme of feeling like you need a piece of paper to prove your worth within the field of social services. There is no one ideal of a social services worker and anyone getting in the field should read this book if you want to feel less alone as you transition from school to the working world.


Keshia Cleaver

BA Child and Youth Care

Meaghan Dougherty’s research is a compelling examination and critique of the transition experiences of social service workers in Canada. Her work is set against a backdrop of neoliberalism and meritocratic individualism, which values individual achievement and material success over an ethics of care and social justice. Theoretically informed, the stories of social service workers transitioning into work vividly highlight the power and performativity, the processes and struggles, of being and becoming a social service worker. As a social work educator and someone who has done narrative research, I highly recommend Dougherty’s study into transition from education to work, and what this means for critical educators.


Dr David Hodgson
Senior Lecturer Social Work

Curtin School of Allied Health

Faculty of Health Sciences

It is no easy task to break through the linear construction of just about every journey, be that the journey from childhood to adulthood, from man to woman, or, as in this book, from student to practitioner. Yet this book manages not merely to critique this linear construction of the student-practitioner transition, but it also serves to validate the value and meaning of the uncertainties that come with journeys in which we never quite arrive anywhere in particular. In a brilliant discussion of the concept of transition, Dougherty weaves in complex ideas of becoming and entanglements, as well as feminist theories of performativity, and brings to life the very real reflections, doubts, and confirmations of five social service workers. The text creates endless space for the voices of the workers to shape the narrative, to build new theoretical insight, and in so doing, to demonstrate that co-creation of knowledge between researcher and participants is itself an act of social justice that disrupts the often invisible coercion of neoliberal determinism. This is a short, very concise book that will appeal to the practitioner as much as it will be a delight for the theoretician! 

Kiaras Gharabaghi

PhD, Dean, Faculty of Community Services
Toronto Metropolitan University

In Need to Get Somewhere Fast: A critical examination of the transition from post-secondary education,  Meaghan Dougherty encourages us to question taken-for-granted assumptions about the relationship between school and work, and what it means to be “successful” within care-oriented disciplines. Dougherty brings to this work her scholarly expertise, as well as her professional wisdom as Child and Youth Care practitioner and educator at comprehensive community college. In her analysis of collaborative conversations with diverse new-to-career social service workers, she thinks with Foucault’s notion of power, Judith Butler’s concept of performativity, and posthuman ideas of becoming and entanglements, to critically examine their experiences as they navigate tensions between their values and neoliberal ideology. Dougherty complexifies common understanding about the transition from student to practitioner as a linear event to reveal a more relational, dynamic, and ongoing process. Although Dougherty’s research is situated within the field of social services, her scholarship is relevant to all practitioners working in care-oriented professions within neoliberal institutions. She invites us to consider, “How can we work both within and against the structures that constitute and constrain us?" Dougherty’s research creates openings for practitioners to reconsider what it means to become a social service worker, to live a good life, and to imagine more just and equitable futures. Simply put, Need to Get Somewhere Fast is brilliant, engaging, and accessible, and makes a significant contribution to the field of practitioner education. 

Cher Hill

PhD, Teacher-Educator

Meaghan Dougherty, EdD, is faculty at Douglas College in the Department of Child and Youth Care. Her research interests include educational leadership, the complex relationship between education and the labour market, relational practice, imagination, criticality, and teaching and learning encounters.

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