Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Criminology Graduate Case Study

DBucTK1W0AA4NZa.jpg-large

Background

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!

Employment Experience

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.

Lincoln Award

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!

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Graduating Students: Sign Up For The Employability Bootcamp

When: Date: 30th-31st May 2017
Where: David Chiddick Building, University of Lincoln

The annual Employability Bootcamp is an event aimed at third year and Masters students who are about to graduate from the College of Social Science.

The aim of the conference is to allow you to pick up some extra skills to enhance your CV and support you in the best way possible before you go on to work or further study.

You can attend as many sessions as you want – you can treat the even like a conference and attend everything we offer, or you can simply drop-in to the sessions you feel would benefit you the most.

Best of all… it’s completely free!

If that sounds good to you, head over to the website to have a look at some of the sessions we will be offering, and then fill out the simple form on the Registration page to book your place.

Don’t forget to check out the video below for more information.

 

 

For more information, including a list of events and booking details, please visit: http://bootcamp.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk

Student Blog: A Quick Guide to Finding Work Experience in Psychology: Part 2 – by Madeleine Pownall

Unknown

1. Use the right language

Most psychology services will be used to emails and letters from students hoping to gain work experience. So much so, that the very words ‘work experience’ may be enough for a prospective employer to stop reading. From speaking to a few psychologists, there is the mindset that offering ‘work experience’ is often costly – in both time and energy. Therefore, by proposing a working relationship which is mutually beneficial, this original hesitation can be changed. For example, offering to be “an assistant” sounds a lot more encouraging that “I am seeking work experience”. A short summary of your specific strengths and ways in which you believe you can make a valued contribution to a service is also a great way to get noticed and be memorable. Which brings us on to the next point…

2. Research each service

There is little point offering to help with admin if the psychologist you are contacting works independently.  Research everywhere that you contact (before you contact them) and make a few bullet-pointed notes on every service. It sounds a lot better to say “I am really interested in working with you because you specialise in X” than something more generic. This is particularly important with research positions; explain why that specific project/researcher is of interest to you and try to draw from your university course for evidence: “In second year I had a module called X which got me really interested in etc…” Knowledge and interest in your course is a really strong quality to be able to offer a potential employer (particularly if, like me, your work experience is limited).

3. Manage expectations.

As psychology (and other social science) students will be used to hearing – confidentiality is key. Although shadowing therapy sessions may sound like a brilliant way to get experience (and I’m sure it is), this will rarely be possible. Psychologists are bound by ethics in every part of their work and particularly in the most sensitive environments; this means that work experience is even more difficult to obtain. Having an understanding of these ethical considerations can really work in your favour when first approaching prospective employers. It will show that you understand the field you’re hoping to go into, and you have full awareness of the extent of your role in the service. This is important in terms of maintaining professional boundaries and protecting the confidentiality of the clients. Also, as mentioned in part 1 of this series, contacting psychologists early can allow plenty of time for DBS clearance (which can take up to 6 weeks).

4. Keep track of your contacts

I found that due to the large number of contacts that I eventually made, it could have been quite difficult to remember which conversations were with every service. I made a simple spreadsheet that allowed me to keep on top of who I had contacted, who had replied and so on (see below for an example. Be persistent, but respectful – if somewhere declines your offer firmly, then take their word for it.

Name of service Emailed? Telephoned? Posted letter? Reply: Y/N? Reason/feedback given Date.
MP Psychology Yes. mppsychology@uol.com N N
  1. Reply from Joe Bloggs on 05/01/2017
They don’t offer work experience. Given details of another service which might.

01/01/2017.

 

 

Madeleine Pownall is a second year psychology student at University of Lincoln. She runs a blog www.thoughtbubblesblog.co.uk which discusses current issues in a psychological context. Find her on twitter: @1thoughtbubbles

If you missed part 1 of this blog series, catch up here:

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk

Student Blog: A Quick Guide to Finding Work Experience in Psychology: Part 1 – by Madeleine Pownall

brain-1299830_1280

Psychology – and other social sciences – are notoriously difficult fields to find work experience in. The need for relevant, clinical experience is ingrained into students from the moment they walk into their first lecture, and yet it is a feat which is easier said than done in many respects. Last summer I worked for two independent psychotherapy services and an NHS specialist service. All these experiences taught me a massive amount, and here is some advice to secure these placements and (more importantly) get the most out of them.

1. Contact Contact Contact

Research your field – where do you want to work? Why? What kind of services are near you? Find them, look at their websites and gather as much information as you can, and then contact them. I found that short-term placements (suitable for 3-4 months over the summer) were almost never advertised on recruitment websites. The larger, most popular companies are usually inundated with student requests for work experiences, so I targeted smaller independent firms by telephone. Phone calls are the easiest way to communicate personality, enthusiasm and are less likely to be ignored (unlike emails). I wrote letters to 48 practices and the ones that accepted me for work experience were the ones I telephoned directly.

2. Be creative and realistic

If – like me – you’re a psychology student, the most typical work experience that you will hope to get is a clinical placement. These opportunities are often few and far between, which means that it is time to get creative. Have a long think about where you want your degree to take you and explore the opportunities which are likely more ‘off the beaten track’. I worked with a lovely psychotherapist who specialises in mindfulness and holistic therapies – the experience was hugely relevant to my course and due to the small nature of the business gave me a real insight into alternative psychology practices. Despite the obvious appeal of large clinical practices, smaller more niche companies can offer a rather unique and personable experience. If you’ve approached all the NHS/private sectors near you and haven’t had any luck, do not despair. Expand your search criteria and keep your options as open as possible. For example, although typing “psychology services” into google may seem a fail-safe plan, using slightly more creative language can give you more hits.

3. Join a staff bank

NHS and independent sectors advertise for bank staff throughout the year. This is perfect for students, because there are no contracted hours (you work as and when available/required). Health care support worker posts are the most frequently advertised and are often available in secure units, psychiatric wards and private hospitals. Additionally, there are temporary recruitment agencies (I worked for TaskMaster Resources) who employ cover staff for the NHS. These are well worth pursuing, particularly for short-term opportunities.

4. Look early

It is likely that psychology practices receive many requests from students, particularly just before the summer or other holidays. Start your search early and build up a bank of contacts which you can later approach when you know your university holidays (with exam dates etc.) For example, I started looking for placements starting for May in January time, and was able to relax during exam time knowing that relevant work experience had been secured.

5. Be prepared to volunteer

Two of my work experience placements were voluntarily. Expenses were paid (train tickets etc.) but other than that, the work I did was entirely free. When the offers first came in I was suitably sceptical and had to secure full time paid work to fund myself, working around the volunteer positions. However, these opportunities gave me genuinely invaluable experience and contacts. Show enthusiasm, invest in your long-term career and be prepared for placements which don’t pay (especially the most competitive sectors).

Madeleine Pownall is a second year psychology student at University of Lincoln. She runs a blog www.thoughtbubblesblog.co.uk which discusses current issues in a psychological context. Find her on twitter: @1thoughtbubbles

If you have something you would like us to post here, please email: collegesocialscience@lincoln.ac.uk