"It has helped me to understand what careers I am interested in and which aspects of youth justice I am passionate about. As a current volunteer in the Police, it has allowed me to understand in greater detail the complexities of youth offending and has changed the way I deal with incidents involving young people."
Why did you choose this placement and how did you find the opportunity?
I was informed of this opportunity by Katrina Whale, a lecturer I had in first year who was the volunteer coordinator at the time for the YOS.
I was interested in youth justice as I had no previous experience in this area and joined the YOS as a volunteer in 1st year, which I was then able to continue in second year and use for my placement hours.
Can you describe the advantages and disadvantage of your placement?
The main advantage I gained is regarding my knowledge on the lives of young people who come into contact with the criminal justice system, the vulnerabilities they experience and the ways in which this affects them. Additionally, the experience of working and communicating directly with young people was hugely beneficial.
I also found that the general workplace experience I gained from assisting with admin and other tasks increased my confidence and people skills.
There were no experiences which I believe had low value. Regardless of the level of interest I had in each area, I consider it all to be very important to my learning and work experience. If I was to do anything differently, I would try to complete further hours with case workers on more difficult cases to better understand their line of work and the challenges they face.
Can you explain how the placement has supported your career pathway?
The placement has given me a far greater understanding of the youth justice system including alternatives to punishment which I was previously unaware of. It increased my awareness of difficulties faced by young people including adverse childhood experiences, for example, which allowed me to understand how these issues impact young people, increase vulnerabilities and impact the way people behave.
What advice would you give to someone who is unsure whether to complete Professional Practice?
Take this opportunity and make the most of it. It is a chance to gain knowledge and understanding in a new area of criminology and will not only increase your professional work experience and improve career options, but it will allow you to gain confidence as a person. It may also lead to further job opportunities both through the networking you will do and through the professionalism you can show to your managers in the workplace. It is a really helpful and enjoyable part of second year and a worthwhile way to improve your experience at uni.