In my last post, I spoke about the Criminal Justice Fast Track, which the University of Leicester offers to students wishing to obtain work experience in the criminal justice sector. It’s an amazing opportunity which both guides the process of obtaining work experience and provides recognition for what you learn from your experiences. As competition in the big wide world of employment seems ever more daunting, the Fast Track is perfect for helping your employment prospects, exploring your ideas about what you want to do after uni, as well as providing a friendly and supportive environment for all of this learning you’re going to be doing.
For my Fast Track award, I have recently started volunteering at Lincolnshire Trading Standards around two days a week, with the odd extra day or two for exploring some other exciting areas in the service. Next week, I’m also going to be meeting with a Detective Sergeant from Lincolnshire Police to discuss some volunteering work I might be able to do for the Public Protection Unit! Only needing 40 hours work experience to complete the award means you don’t need to take on loads of new things all at once, but you might find that as you start on the Fast Track, you’ll get more and more enticed to do loads of new things. Plus, the potential for a Gold award with 100 hours is quite motivating, and the more new experiences you have, the more you’ll have to talk about in the presentation. (Yes, sadly there is a presentation! But all you have to do is boast about this amazing new job you have!)
I’m not sure how exciting Trading Standards sounds from the outside, but having done my Year 10 experience with them, as well as volunteering for two years as an (undercover!) underage test purchaser, I can testify that Trading Standards is actually pretty cool. Trading Standards get to do all kinds of exciting things like raids, going to court, and there’s a fair deal of being out in the field. At the age of fifteen, I got to wear a hidden camera and microphone and ‘go out in the field’ and I don’t think there’s any point trying to express the level of excitement that gave teenage me. For my Year 10 work experience, I was out in a new place every day. One day I’d be learning about how to identify counterfeit products in a busy office and another I’d be wearing overalls in a petrol station in the middle of nowhere. Even the paperwork is exciting in its own way, since it’s all part of some important investigation or prosecution case… Now that I’m a grown-up volunteer, the new things I get to do have just got more exciting.
The Trading Standards staff have entrusted me with my own company laptop and phone! And I’m really treated like a member of the team (with just a little less to worry about than everyone else, which can’t be a bad thing). Primarily, I am supposed to be working on prosecutions of scam cases, but there are tons of other things to get involved with as well. Last week I went to court to take notes for a press release, next week I’ll be going out to examine animal welfare at a livestock market amongst other Trading Standards regulations, and the week after I’ll be able to visit victims of scams which will be a rare opportunity to appreciate this side of the effects of crime. It’s an amazing working experience for both my CV and myself. Since Trading Standards has become part of the Safer Communities Service, there is also now the opportunity to work with some very different types of crimes like cases of substance abuse, domestic abuse, youth offending, and sex violence. And there is continually the opportunity to work alongside the police.
This experience has given me such a taste for experiencing as much as I can of this type of work and really helping me to realise my specific career ambitions whilst developing my skills! On top of this, I hope my meeting with the police will go well and perhaps get me some more in depth experience in the police service! I’m even hoping to get some experience in CID eventually, which I’ve started working on by establishing a contact in Lincolnshire CID. This whole experience has been a snowball of opportunities as my confidence grows and I can’t thank the Fast Track enough for coaching me through.