In June 2015, I graduated from the University of Lincoln with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with First Class Honours. Some of the modules I studied included Psychology and Crime, Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Professions. These modules in particular stood out for me and helped me to realise that I wanted to pursue a career in either the Prison Service or the Probation Service. Alongside my studies, I decided that I wanted to engage in volunteering opportunities and work experience which would help put some of the theory I was learning into practice. I applied to be a Youth Offender Mentor with Lincolnshire Action Trust and was successful in my application. Lincolnshire Action Trust provided me with full training and paired me with a young offender who required guidance and support from a mentor. The role required me to act as a pro-social model for the young person and communicate with other agencies such as Youth Offending Teams. I also took part in the Employer Mentoring Scheme which was offered by the University which was an invaluable experience. I was mentored by a senior manager of Lincolnshire Probation trust and shadowed many key aspects of their work. This allowed me to gain work experience in the Prison Service, the Crown Court and with Probation officers. Around 4 months prior to finishing my degree I decided to start searching and applying to jobs that took my interest. It was a very stressful time to start applying for jobs as I was in the middle of my dissertation but I felt it could give me an advantage by applying early. I applied for three jobs, all quite different; admin role in the courts, a Restorative Justice Facilitator and Offender Supervisor. I was offered an interview for two out of the three jobs I applied for and in April 2015 I was fortunate enough to be offered the job of Offender Supervisor for the Prison Service. I started this role in July 2015 and almost two years later I am still thoroughly enjoying my work!
As an Offender Supervisor working for the Prison Service, my key role is to support, coach and motivate offenders through their sentence. On average I work with a caseload of between 60 and 70 offenders who are a mixture of high risk, low risk and life sentenced prisoners. I am required to make regular assessments on offenders in regards to factors such as their level of risk to themselves and others, their criminogenic needs and their physical and mental wellbeing. I work closely with the Probation Service and help devise sentence plan targets for offenders to address their needs and risks. Examples of this could be, completing an offending behaviour programme or addressing drug and alcohol problems. I am responsible to making referrals to other departments such as psychology, mental health and substance misuse and liaise closely with them on a daily basis. I am also required to write reports for re-catergorisation of offenders and for the parole process. I represent offenders at oral hearings and make recommendations for potential release.
The Lincoln Award helped me to develop key skills such as CV writing, interview techniques and how to complete application forms. The Lincoln Award also offered me the opportunity to complete a Mental Health First Aid course which I could add to my CV and talk about in my interviews. To pass the award I was required to complete a mock interview which gave me excellent practice for upcoming real interviews and provided me with constructive feedback and advice going forward.
Best Career Advice
My best advice would be to try and gain some volunteering or work experience whilst at University. Although it can be difficult finding something that’s right for you and doesn’t affect your studies the benefits it offers can make a huge difference! I really noticed in my interviews that although my degree was important the key factor was what practical experience I had and what real life situations I had dealt with. Be confident when you are applying for jobs and in your interviews. Do you research so you are fully prepared for any questions they may ask you, show enthusiasm and don’t be afraid to apply for things which may be out your comfort zone!
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