As part of your degree you will undertake a placement module that will require you to research and apply for a voluntary role, in which you will work for a set amount of hours. Placements are a valuable opportunity, and students from all courses are encouraged to participate. Read on to find out more about how and why to volunteer in criminal justice.
Why is it important?
Gaining work experience in criminal justice is an important way of preparing yourself for full-time employment. Not only will the experience impress employers who want more than a degree, but it gives you the chance to work in an industry-level practical environment with experienced staff. It forces you to get outside of your comfort zone and find the career path that’s right for you – you never know what could happen in the future if you impress the organisation you work with!
Criminology, Policing and Investigation student, Sana, undertook her placement at mental health charity, Merge: “I have been working alongside a team of experienced volunteers to support adults who have been a victim of sexual abuse. We organise victim groups and provide one-to-one sessions, with the aim of reducing social isolation. This experience has made me more aware of the hidden struggles that sexual abuse survivors go through and has helped me to understand the best way to support people.”
Tips for finding work experience
Start by thinking about what you’re truly passionate about; which sector of criminology do you want to work in? If you are unsure, that’s okay, just research the sector until you find something that interests you.
Networking is also crucial! Using platforms like LinkedIn to meet employers and businesses will not only help you bag a volunteer role, but also help you with post-university life as well. Don’t be afraid to message people and put yourself out there.
Leading on from that, have you considered making speculative approaches? Sending applications to companies that aren’t advertising is a great way to show you have initiative and drive, but always make sure to research whichever companies you are applying for. Aligning yourself with their goals and messaging will impress recruiters and shows you’ve put effort into your application.
Where can you volunteer?
There is an abundance of places you can volunteer at that relate to the criminal justice sector. Here are just a few:
- Youth offending teams
- Probation services
- Drugs agencies
- British Transport Police
- Youth centres
Reflecting on her volunteering experience, Criminology student Libby, said: “I worked with a drugs and alcohol support service, accompanying staff on home visits to clients. I also participated in running workshops to help clients overcome addiction, whilst assisting in drug testing for assessment during prescribed opioid treatment. This placement has helped to enhance my knowledge about addiction and positively change clients lives.”
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