In episode 58 of the Graduate Job Podcast, I am joined by Maria Donovan, the recruitment director for Unlocked Grads, the innovative and brand new graduate scheme aimed at attracting top graduate talent into the Prison Service. In this half hour we explore their new graduate leadership development programme discussing what exactly the scheme entails, its intensive training, and what you will be doing over your initial 2 years. We smash some of the stereotypes associated with the Prison Service, what life as a prison officer is really like, and just how fit you need to be to pass the fitness requirements. We delve into the application process in detail, from the initial online application through to the assessment centre and how to impress in the role play. We look at what exactly they are looking for when you apply so that your application stands head and shoulders above everybody else. If you’ve ever thought about a career in the Prison Service, then this is the episode for you, and even if working as a prison officer has never crossed your mind, you need to keep listening to understand why it could be the perfect place to begin your career. As always, all links to everything we discuss and a full transcript are available right this very moment in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/unlockedgrads. Before we start a quick request from me, your feedback helps me to create the episodes you want to hear, so I’ve set up a super simple and very quick survey, as I want the show to best serve your needs. It’s got 5 questions and will take you a minute, so please check it out at http://www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. But in the meantime, let’s crack on with the show.
MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Unlocked Grads and their graduate leadership development programme
- What life as a prison officer is really like, and how you will be changing lives UK
- What you can expect from their intensive training programme
- The secrets to impressing throughout the application process from the online application to the assessment centre
- How to standout in the role plays at the assessment centre
- The characteristics Unlocked Grads are looking for in their applicants
- Why Unlocked Grads could be the perfect place to start your career
SELECTED LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Unlocked Graduates website – http://unlockedgrads.org.uk/ – Get your application in now!
- Unlocked Grads on Twitter
- Unlocked Grads on Facebook
- Got any questions? Email them at email@example.com
- Maria’s book reccommendation. If you are applying to Unlocked Grads make sure you read some of these books below! With chapters written by Unlocked Graduates advisor Helen Arnold who is leading on the Masters. Click on the images to buy NOW from Amazon and to stand out in the process!
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE, CHECK OUT MY INTERVIEWS WITH THE FOLLOWING EMPLOYERS:
- My interview with Teach First
- My interview with Think Ahead
- My interview with Frontline
- My interview with Police Now
Transcript – Episode 58 – How to get a Job as a Prison Officer with Unlocked Grads
Announcer: Welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast, your home for weekly information and inspiration to help you get the graduate job of your dreams.
James: Welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast, with your host James Curran. The Graduate Job Podcast is your weekly home for all things related to helping you on your journey to finding that amazing job. Each week I bring together the best minds in the industry, speaking to leading authors, entrepreneurs, coaches and bloggers who bring decades of experience into a byte size weekly 30 minute show. Put simply, this is the show I wish I had a decade ago when I graduated.
And today for episode 58 of the Graduate Job Podcast we have a very special show. I love chatting to the recruiters themselves so you can hear directly from them what they are looking for, and this is certainly the case this week as I am bringing you a brand new graduate scheme that has just launched. Yep, this week I am joined by Maria Donovan, the recruitment director for the brand new graduate scheme, Unlocked Grads, the innovative new graduate scheme aimed at attracting top graduate talent into the Prison Service. In this half hour we explore their new graduate leadership development programme discussing what exactly the scheme entails, its intensive training, and what you will be doing over your initial 2 years. We smash some of the stereotypes associated with the Prison Service, what life as a prison officer is really like, and just how fit you need to be to pass the fitness requirements. We delve into the application process in detail, from the initial online application through to the assessment centre and how to impress in the role play. We look at what exactly they are looking for when you apply so that your application stands head and shoulders above everybody else. If you’ve ever thought about a career in the Prison Service, then this is the episode for you, and even if working as a prison officer has never crossed your mind, you need to keep listening to understand why it could be the perfect place to begin your career. As always, all links to everything we discuss and a full transcript are available right this very moment in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/unlockedgrads. But in the meantime, let’s crack on with the show.
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James Curran: I’m very pleased today to welcome to this show Maria Donovan, the recruitment director for the brand new graduate scheme, Unlocked Graduates. Maria, welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast.
Maria Donovan: Thanks very much, James.
James: So, Maria, let’s dive straight in. What is Unlocked Grads?
Maria: Unlocked Graduates is a brand new graduate scheme, a two-year leadership development program, during which participants work as prison officers in London in the Southeast and develop a multitude of skills that will serve them well in whatever career they choose to pursue. Beyond that, communication skills, leadership, and leading on the front line, and key relationship building skills as well.
James: Wow, and just a prison service is such an interesting topic and big area at the moment when you hear some of the stats about 40% of people reoffend within a year who go through prison, and 60% reoffend within a year if they’ve been serving under 12 months. It’s just crazy the amount of money that’s spent on the prison service. So, it’s great to get a new grad scheme, getting graduates in nice and early.
Maria: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s part of the reason as to why this has been developed. Reoffending is not in a good state at the moment in the country and costs the economy a huge amount, and every time someone reoffends, that is a new victim as well, and we want to have great people working as prison officers who are supporting people throughout their time in prison so that when they come out, they are in a better position to get jobs, get training, education so that they don’t fall back into the life of crime that got them there in the first place.
Having spoken to lots of prisoners about this, they’re all very excited about this as well because the vast majority of them want to better their lives in some way whilst they are in prison. And getting graduates involved is obviously a way of raising the prestige of a job in which you can make a huge impact, and a job that really should be given more consideration by graduates and everyone as a career choice because it’s such a vital role to play in changing society.
James: Brilliant. So, let’s maybe start out finding more about the scheme to whet the listener’s interest and then we can move onto the application process itself. So, thinking that about the scheme, what sort of work will applicants be doing when they get the job?
Maria: They will be prison officers. They’ll be working as Band 3 prison officers for their two years that they are on the program. There’s kind of a stereotype of officers as being turnkeys and opening and locking doors. But, actually, there’s so much more to the job than that and can be much more to it. Whether that might be teaching prisoners to read, or making sure that they are able to get access to letters that they’re being sent, it’s quite often a prison officer who might sit at the end of their bed and read a letter to them that would really help, in their situation, ensure that they’ve got access to everything that they need. Be it requests for visits, requests to go to funerals of family members, prison officers are the people who really drive that forward and ensure that those relationships are in place so that the prisoners are fully supported in their rehabilitation.
The prison officers are the first port of call for people in prison and have the most interactions with them day-in, day-out. So, it’s a really vital role in terms of building those relationships. Quite often, they’re people who are from broken lives and who haven’t had positive relationships in the past, so 24% of prisoners have been in care at some point compared to 2% of the general population. So, really, it’s a really powerful role for people who haven’t had positive role models in the past to have that access to people who can potentially turn their lives around.
Also, part of the job is, obviously, to deal with situations that will come up. As you mentioned, at the moment, we read a lot in the media about various situations that have been ongoing, and as a prison officer, obviously, you need to be able to step up and deal with high-pressured situations and be able to deescalate anything that might have the potential to develop into something in a prison. It’s really quite a key balance of being able to build those relationships, but also be firm but fair in dealing with some of those situations that may occur while still working there.
James: You talked about stereotypes. My layman stereotype of a prison officer tends to be a traditionally male-dominated environment. Are you looking for male and female applicants to apply?
Maria: Yeah, absolutely, and it’s interesting because I had that stereotype as well myself. Then, having been into prisons, actually, it’s really not noticeable that there’s a big gender difference at all. So, male prisons, it’s around 65/35 percent in terms of the male/female split, and a lot of female officers actually say that it works in their favour, being a woman in a male prison. I haven’t spoken to any female prison officers who’ve reported that they feel intimidated or vulnerable. In the actual fact, they’re probably treated with a bit more respect by the prisoners themselves.
Also, we’re hoping to place in a female prison, which is obviously a slightly different dynamic as well and equally there. The women’s prison that we’re hoping to place in has a male governor who’s really passionate about ensuring those women has positive male role models that they can experience whilst they’re in prison. Because, quite often, part of the reason why they’re there in the first place is because of their negative relationships with men prior to going into prison.
So, very much looking for a mix. We also particularly are focused that our cohort of participants are diverse ethnically. Prison is very much skewed in terms of proportion of prisons from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. Yet, the workforce doesn’t represent that at the moment. Going back to what I said about having positive role models from your own kind of background and race, I think it’s really important that the workforce reflects the fact that there is such a higher proportion of particularly black young men in prison than there is in the wider population.
James: Maybe just dealing, again, with the stereotypes at the beginning, one of my stereotypes is you’ve got to be quite — it’s quite a daunting environment to work in. You’ve got to be physically fit. What sort of training will the applicants go through before they’ve been put on the front line?
Maria: Sure. So, in order to start the program, you do complete a fitness test, a kind of routine fitness test that the Ministry of Justice run, which actually sounds quite fun, doing a complete test and then you have to run somewhere holding a shield. What we will run is a six-week training program in the summer before they start and that will give them all the basics that they need to get started, from learning how to work a radio to figuring out what key opens what, and how to put on a uniform, to more around the kind of rehabilitation skills that we want our officers to implement.
So, that six weeks will really be a time to work on that. And they’ll also start some of their work towards Master’s qualification that they’ll be involved with so that by the time they start at the end of August, they’ll be in a good position to start the job and then they’ll be fully supported throughout the two years. So, they’ll have a mentoring prison officer who comes in a couple of days a week to support them and check that they don’t have any issues, and talk about how they can make an impact as well.
James: In terms of the Master’s degrees, compulsory to doing the Master’s as you do the course?
Maria: Yeah, so it’s a fully-funded Master’s degree that we offer.
James: Save a fortune.
Maria: Yeah, exactly. That is being developed. It’s a bespoke Master’s that we’re designing on leading on rehabilitation. So, that’s being run with a leading academic on the subject who has done a lot of work at the Institute of Criminology in Cambridge and we’re doing that with the University of Suffolk. We’re very excited and she’s very excited as well to work with us to develop that for our participants. It really highlights, I guess, our focus on rehabilitation rather than the traditional training that prison officers get, which is mainly focused on control and restraint processes.
James: You mentioned initially the prisons in London in the Southeast. Will applicants get a choice of where they might work?
Maria: On the application form, they can state any particular extenuating reasons as to why they might not be able to move from where they are. We are operating in a relatively small geographical area, so it will be a placement process that we go through, and that will be in communication with the participants themselves. Obviously, we try to take these into account, but we can’t necessarily make any guarantees. And we’ll only be working with five or six prisons, so we’ll be placing participants in groups of six as a minimum. So, they will have a few other participants in the prison with them as well.
James: It’s always good to have people go through the process at the same time just to form a bond and friendship with.
Maria: Yeah, exactly.
James: What does the day in the life of a prison officer look like? I guess it’s not going to be a standard 9 to 5.
Maria: No. It can be shift work and shift-oriented. It’s not always 9 to 5 anyway. So, that may involve some work on weekends and sometimes nights. I think there is a certain — fundamentally, the prison officers are there to ensure that the prison regime is adhered to and the routine is in place. So, there is quite a bit of routine about it in that respect. You’re making sure that people are getting out, and going to work, and education, and they’re making sure that they get back in and that they’re allowed out for exercise and association, and checking that everyone’s there and counting quite a lot.
So, there’s that kind of regimented routine side of it that does happen because the whole point is that the prison is running effectively. Then, obviously, the part that we’re really interested in which is the relationship building part and taking that opportunity to work directly with the prisoners themselves and ensure that they’re getting to the places where they’re meant to be, or if someone is refusing to go to work or education, trying to get to the root of that problem and why that might be the case.
I met a young lad in prison a few weeks ago who had said he’d completed his level 1 reading and we thought, “Great! Are you going to do level 2?” and he said that he didn’t want to do that because he got into fights on the way to the education wing from his cell, from his wing. So, he didn’t want to do level 2 because of that, and that’s a perfect opportunity, I think, if I was a prison officer to come to your cell, and I’m going to sit there with you and I’m going to teach you to read, because this seems like a ridiculous situation. The only reason why you’re not learning to read and write, which would fundamentally help you to get a job when you get out of prison, is because you don’t want to go to that part of the prison.
So, really small things like that prevent people from doing things. Prison officers can address that situation. That’s the kind of day-to-day that I see participants being involved in and dealing with situations that occur as well.
James: Brilliant. You mentioned this was a two-year scheme. What happens at the end of the two years?
Maria: So, after the two years, people may choose to stay working in the prison service, which we’re more than happy for them to do. We expect them to pursue leadership positions within the prison service if that’s what they choose. However, we’re very open to the fact that a lot of people may choose to take the skills that they’ve developed and move into other careers. We’re very keen for our participants to move into business, policy, charity, their own social enterprises, and still promote our vision.
So, if they go to work in business, then they may encourage their organization to employ ex-offenders or to run workshops in prisons and really kind of break down, I guess, that big barrier, because this is a part of society which 90% of people have no exposure to, have no access to, and we want to ensure that positive stories are getting out of that environment and into the wider society so that prisoners seem more as people and people who are going to come out and live next door to you, and we don’t want them to be in a position where they feel like they have to reoffend because they’re back in the same situation that they were before.
Obviously, the skills that people will get in the job, we think, will put them in a really strong position to pursue lots of different careers. So, that will be from dealing with conflicts, making highly-pressured decisions, managing difficult relationships, exceptional communication skills, all of those things, we really feel that the role of a prison officer can really help you to develop.
James: Moving onto the candidates, then, and what you’re looking for from them. Are there any key characteristics that you’re looking for from the applicants?
Maria: Yeah, so we have a cool set of attributes that we’re looking for in the people that apply. We obviously want people who are highly motivated by what we’re trying to achieve and by the work that I’ll be doing, and they have to have the sort of sense of possibility around that so you know that real belief in people’s capacity to change and want to do things better, these are people who have made mistakes in life, and we don’t shy away from saying that. They are being punished for something that they’ve done. But, I guess believing that just because people have done something wrong doesn’t mean that they can’t change from that situation.
Leadership, obviously being able to influence and persuade people is really important. Then, we want people who are resilient and can deal with tricky situations and not everything’s going to go right all the time, and be able to deal with that, particularly with all the mental health issues at their own prison. I think being able to kind of reflect and be self-aware of your own well-being and being resilient in that situation is important. Then, people who are able to make objective decisions fairly quickly a lot of the time. So, key decision making, as well, is really important, and fundamentally building relationships as well.
James: Yeah, you talked about if you did want to move onto different careers, you’re going to force some amazing skills working in a prison service. It’s going to be a lot more impressive than if you’ve been spending time on a spreadsheet. Just the connections and the relationship building that you’re going to have to make with people of different walks of life that you just don’t normally come into contact would be certainly life skills which will stay with you forever.
Maria: Yeah, and you know what? A lot of the time I’ve spent in these places, a lot of the prison officers I speak to say, “You really just need a sense of humour.” It’s not hugely dissimilar to a lot of other public institutions, like hospitals and schools. You’re working with people, right? Yes, they can be difficult people, particularly in a prison with that subset of society. But, a lot of the time, it’s about just having that kind of banter and that sort of chat with them, and being able to do that quite easily really makes a difference to everyone’s life in there, I think.
James: I’m sure there’ll be people listening who have never been in a prison, have probably never had any contact with people who’ve been in prison. How have you felt personally? You mentioned you’ve been into prison, you’ve spoken with people. How did it feel once you walk in that prison and the gates slam shut behind you? Was it a daunting place that you might expect?
Maria: Yes and no. So, prior to last September, I was one of those people who never had any exposure to anyone in prison or I’ve walked past Brixton Prison quite a few times and that’s about it. I think that’s part of the problem, right? A lot of these prisons are like right next to us within our village, or town, or wherever it might be, and yet no one knows what goes on in there. Brixton Prison was actually the first one I went to. It was quite a traditional old Victorian kind of prison, and I was quite nervous about getting in there, didn’t really know what to expect.
But, like I said, I’ve been a teacher in the past, so I found it very similar to being in a school. Everyone called me “Miss”. Everyone wants to talk to you, which is understandable, because they don’t get much chance to speak to different people outside. I actually found it very calming, surprisingly calming. There was people meeting around. We were there at a kind of free-flow time of the day. People were outside, and it’s a resettlement prison, so there is lots of movement around the prison.
Everyone was very polite. I didn’t feel intimidated at all. Prior to Christmas, I was in prisons with a film crew, which was interesting trying to move around them. What we found is you get a lot of attention initially and then people found out we weren’t from a highly reputable TV channel and didn’t want to hang out with us anymore. It’s nice that you can walk around and you can just talk to people, whether it’s prison officers, or prisoners themselves, and you can just see what’s going on. Actually, it just feels very much like a normal institution. But, I haven’t seen anything drastic happen. That’s the main thing, I think.
Actually, normally, day-to-day, it runs fairly smoothly. There’s not a huge amount of drastic things that happen. I feel honoured to have seen inside some of those environments. And there’s a lot of really great stuff. The Clink Restaurant in Brixton and a lot of other prisons where prisoners work in a restaurant that has public facings, so there’s public visitors that go in, and there’s an opportunity for them to learn to cook, chef, waiter. There’s lots of exciting workshops. There’s one prison that has an entire printing workshop and engineering workshops. They’re doing some incredible things in there. There’s a Max Spielmann photo shop in a prison.
James: Is there?
Maria: Yeah, and cool centres and all sorts. It’s just fascinating that all that stuff is going on in there and you would never know about it.
James: No, I’ve never heard of any of it. Next time I’m in Brixton, I’ll definitely check out The Clink Cafe inside there. So, in terms of sticking with the characteristics of candidates applying, do you have any specific academic requirements or universities that you’re looking to target specifically?
Maria: Yeah, so obviously, part of this is that we are aiming to get top graduates to consider a career that they wouldn’t ordinarily consider, and we want to get a new different kind of person to go and work in prisons. We are targeting universities that are high-performing. Our academic criteria is a 300 UCAS points and a 2:1 degree, and a grade C GCSE English and Math.
A lot of the reasoning behind that is down to the rehabilitation element I was talking about. At the moment, a lot of prison officers don’t necessarily have much more education than the prisoners themselves. So, when it comes to learning to read, to write, basic math to improve those skills for when you’re getting out, prison officers aren’t actually always in a position that they can do that. So, that’s why we want to get people in place who can sort of act as teachers, social workers, mentors to the prisoners. So, we require a certain high level of academic ability in order to do that.
The 2:1 degree, we are open to the fact that that doesn’t necessarily define someone’s ability to do this role. So, where candidates fall slightly short of handing a 2:1 degree, there is space on the application form to highlight additional experience or extenuating circumstances. We obviously expect their application forms to be particularly strong. But, we are open to the fact that it doesn’t define all their skills as well.
James: Excellent. So, if you’ve just missed out on that 2:1, then don’t be put off. There is still hope. Moving onto the application process itself, Maria. How many people are you looking to recruit this year?
Maria: We’re looking to recruit 45 to start in July this year. They will come through our process relatively quickly. We operate on a rolling basis. So, as people submit applications, they will be screened and we aim to get back to them within a couple of weeks. So, there’s an online application form in which you are asked to list some basic details and contact details, and then a few questions around some of the attributes, particularly your motivations as to why you want to do the role. Then, if you’re successful, you’re invited to an assessment centre, and our assessment centre is run in London from about the end of February.
So, you’ll be offered some dates to choose from, come along to an assessment centre, and that’s the final stage of the process, and at the assessment centre, there will be a role play exercise with some reflection involved with that, an interview, and a group task. We’re very keen, obviously, for people to get as much insight into the job as they possibly can at the assessment centre. So, it’s as much for the camp’s sake to get that as it is for us to assess them.
James: So, it sounds like quite a sort of flat application process. So, let’s maybe break it down stage-by-stage. You mentioned about the online application and I had a quick look. You’ve got five questions on there that candidates need to answer. What would you recommend how they can stand out in the 100 to 200 words that they’ve got for each question.
Maria: Well, I think it’s really important just to structure your response appropriately and just make sure that you’re breaking down exactly what your actions were. If you’re talking about an example, what exactly is it that you personally did to achieve success in that situation, I think, is really key so that we can understand what your impact was in that situation. Where it’s talking about your motivations, and kind of how you see yourself having an impact on the program, and any kind of specifics that people can give on experiences that they’ve had, or what they plan to do, we’re really interested to hear about any specifics behind that, and really just, I think, breaking down what their views are on there as well, and their motivations for it.
James: You mentioned a big thing there with speaking about what they did personally. Often, when I see applications or the answers for the applications, they talk about what the team did and they don’t actually say what they did personally, and you think, “Well, they’re not recruiting their team. They’re recruiting you.”
Maria: Yeah, exactly. I think it’s really important. I think it’s something that a lot of people shy away from doing, but it’s really important to dig yourself up as much as you can.
James: Just jumping around, in terms of the motivation, is there any particular work experience that you’re looking for people to have? I mean, obviously, people aren’t going to have work experience working in prisons. Are there any other key areas that would really tick the box for what you’re looking for?
Maria: I think anything where you’ve been volunteering or working with vulnerable people, or young people, or people with mental health issues is a great experience to have anyway. But also, it’s kind of linked to some of the issues that you’ll be dealing with as a prison officer. So, any experiences like that, I would always urge people to do anyway. Then, I think, on top of that, just some of the questions are around influencing and persuading people, and also dealing with challenging situations. So, being quite open-minded about what sort of situations you’ve faced throughout your life and what mechanisms you used to deal with those things, or what skills you would implement if certain things were going to happen.
James: Moving onto the assessment centre, then. As I mentioned, it’s quite flat just going straight from the online application to the assessment centre. There’s nothing in between, no numerical tests or telephone interviews? It’s just straight to the assessment centre?
Maria: Yeah, just straight to assessment.
James: How can people practice for the role play? What advice would you give the people prepping for that?
Maria: I guess part of the reason for it is that you can’t really prepare for it. I think just be quite open-minded about it, don’t be too nervous. I think it’s important to remember that this is an artificial environment and we’re not looking for people who are perfect. We’re looking for people who can demonstrate potential. So, not panic if you feel like in the first minute or so, it’s not going according to what you felt it should. I think that’s really important.
In terms of preparing in advance, I think reading up a little bit about what it’s like working in a prison, making sure you’ve read all of our website and our case studies, and on what situations they’re normally faced with, and that might just give you a bit of insight. But, really, I think it’s just important to come confident. We’re not trying to throw people off so you’re not second-guessing anything that might happen and just being yourself, I think, is the most important thing.
James: Moving on then to the interview stage, again, what are you looking for from candidates when they get through to the interview?
Maria: We want people to be articulate in talking about their experiences to date and why that’s relevant to the jump and really highlight what it is that they want to be involved with Unlocked Graduates. So, why they want to work as prison officers, but also specifically why they want to do it by this program as well.
James: Just leading off on that then, what are the key reasons why you think people should apply to Unlocked Grads as opposed to more traditional entry routes into the prison service?
Maria: Well, I think we got quite a unique offering in that we have some incredible training that people are going to undergo that is specifically designed with this rehabilitation element in mind, which I think is badly needed in a prison service. We also offer the funded Master’s, which I think is really exciting for people to be involved with. Also, on top of that, in the second year, our participants will have the option to be involved in writing a policy paper on prison reform with Unlocked. We will be leading on that and that will be presented to the Secretary of State. So, I think that’s quite an inflating element of the program for people to be involved with.
And really, fundamentally, there’s a lot more mentoring and support that they’ll be given throughout their time on the program and more opportunities once they complete the two years. So, we’re hoping that a lot of our supporters will offer work placements to our participants to put them in a good position for when they finish their two years.
James: Brilliant. Time is unfortunately running away with us, Maria, so a couple of final questions before we move to the quick-fire question round. The question that all graduates have at the back of their mind is what sort of salary can they be expecting with Unlocked Grads?
Maria: You’ll be employed by the government as a prison officer. The national starting salary for that is about £20,400, and then it has different rates increasing too in London, which is just under £25,000. Obviously, our participants will mostly be on the inner-London or outer-London pay scale. Outer London is in between that. It’s around £23,000. So, that’s the sort of variance there.
James: Finally then, what would you say to someone who is in two minds about applying to Unlocked Grads?
Maria: I think it’s important for graduates to make a considered decision about jobs like this. It’s not going to be easy. It will be a challenging job for people to go into. However, they are badly, badly needed in the prison service at the moment. It is really badly needed to have great people going in and working in this way and aiming to rehabilitate people. It won’t be for everyone, but if people think that they are the kind of person that can take on that challenge and be successful, then I implore them to really take the opportunity and understand that it’s a two-year program, and beyond that, they will have a huge, huge range of skills that they can apply to whatever they wish to do beyond that.
James: I definitely echo that. I mean, the range of experiences, and skills, and things you learn of the two years will just put all your friends who might be going down the more traditional route into big FOOTSIE companies to shame. You’ll be doing things that they won’t and you’ll have experiences that they won’t, and you’ll certainly grow and develop as a person probably a lot quicker than most of your friends.
James: So, moving on then, Maria, to our weekly quick-fire questions. Interested for your responses to these. What one book would you recommend our listeners to read?
Maria: Interesting. I think “The Role of a Prison Officer” by Helen Arnold. (Note: The Experience of Prison Officer Training by Helen Arnold is in the book ‘Understanding Prison Staff below)
(Note: Helen co-authors the below book on ‘Prisons and Their Moral Performance’. Read this to impress in the interview!)
James: I’ve not come across that one.
Maria: I think it’s “The Role of a Prison Officer”. It might be “The Job of a Prison Officer”. Helen Arnold, anything she’s written you can read it.
James: Okay, listeners, that will be linked to in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/unlockedgrads. I’ll link to everything we’ve talked about today and there’ll be a full transcript, so just check out the website there. Is that going to be one where if you start namedropping Helen Arnold in the interview process, there’ll be a big tick on the form of the assessor?
Maria: Well, she’s actually hopefully leading on our Master’s, so they’ll probably become familiar with her anyway, if they come through the process.
James: Listeners, I think that’s one to check out on their website and to snap up on Amazon while you can. Next, Maria, what website would you recommend that our listeners visit?
Maria: Our website.
James: Nice and easy. Do you want to give us that one?
James: Super. Finally, what one tip can you give our listeners that they can implement today to help on their job search?
Maria: I think get a better understanding of what your key motivations are behind what you want to do as a graduate, something that I don’t think I did enough when I was graduating from university. But, really get a key understanding of what you feel your strengths are and what you want to do.
James: That’s really good advice. If you can focus on your values nice and early on in your career, then it saves you having the wobbling later on when you suddenly realize that you might be not doing what you really have been pushed to have been —
Maria: It sounds like you’re speaking from personal experience.
James: Oh, well I couldn’t possibly comment. I mean, that’s great advice. Maria, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. What is the best way for people to find out more about Unlocked Grads and where you’re going to be over the coming weeks and months?
Maria: Our website was launched last week. Definitely worth getting on there, and if anyone’s got any questions, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
James: Perfect, and we talked offline, you were doing a big tour of all of the —
James: Yeah, and you’ll be on campuses very soon?
Maria: Yeah, from next week.
James: Excellent. So, listeners at uni, check out Unlocked Grads as you pop around the country and say hello to Maria and the team.
James: Maria, thank you so much for joining us on the Graduate Job Podcast.
Maria: Brilliant. Thanks very much, James.
James: Many thanks to Maria Donovan. I love doing interviews with graduate schemes where I might be introducing you to companies that you might not necessarily have thought of applying to, and ones which you should definitely look at investigating. Much like my interviews with Police Now, Frontline, Think Ahead and Teach First, By working with Unlocked Grads you are going to be doing work which will be changing people’s lives. If you’ve not listened to my interviews on schemes, check out the shownotes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/unlockedgrads, where I have linked them all up.
In terms of a key point to leave you with, for me joining the graduate scheme at Unlocked Grads is a situation where you can’t lose. Thinking personally, you do 2 years where you will receive amazing training and also experiences that you just won’t or can’t get anywhere else. Imagine how confident you will be and how you will carry yourself 2 years down the line having dealt with everything that a front line prison officer faces. Imagine how good your communication skills, negotiating skills, leadership skills will be, how confident you will be at dealing with difficult situations, how you will carry yourself as a person, plus the things you will learn whilst doing a masters. And this is all in the first couple of years! If you decide to leave a couple of years down the line you are going to be hot graduate property, as companies will be queuing up to snap you up. If you stay you will be on the fast track to success within the Prison Service. A win win. Have a think about it, you could be one of the first co-hort of recruits helping to change the Prison Service from within. On that nice warm glow I’ll leave you with a final request from me, if this episode or any of the other 48 have been useful to you, you can thank me by doing the survey at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey, make sure you leave your email address so I can thank you personally. All that’s left to say is do join me next week when I have John Lees back on the show….it’s a goodie! I hope you enjoyed today, but more importantly, I hope you use it, and apply it. See you next week.