A huge congratulations to Cherilyn for securing herself a role with Unlocked. Here she tells us how she found the recruitment process and gives some great tips for future applicaints.
Why did you choose this firm and this role?
Prisons are a difficult environment. Being separated from those you love the most and your freedom would be challenging for anyone. The emotional toil on prisoners is, therefore, significant and finding the motivation to make the most out of each day may be difficult. As a prison officer, I can support the most vulnerable in our society whilst (hopefully) challenging some pro-offending mindsets and reducing reoffending. Unlocked Graduates’ programme provides me with support whilst I take on this challenging role and also offer a master’s in Leadership and Custodial Environments to help me reflect on my practice in the prison academically. The organisation has also paved the way for its participants to recommend change both at our local establishments, via our Governors, and at the national level with the chance to write a policy paper in our second year. It is a unique programme that offers on-the-job experience, further education and the chance to make a difference.
What was the most challenging part of the application process and your favourite part?
The most challenging part, but also my favourite part, of the application process was the role play with an actor playing a prisoner. The experience was quite intense as it is made to challenge you and see how you respond to difficult situations. I was surprised by how calmly I could respond to the situation and it helped me to see the impact I could have on a prisoner’s life with just one interaction. This helped me to realise that I really wanted to become a prison officer with Unlocked Graduates. I also greatly enjoyed the interview with a prison officer and a former prisoner as it allowed me to see prison life from two contrasting viewpoints; and it was a chance to meet the sort of people I’d be working with on a daily basis.
Were you surprised by anything in the process?
Unlocked Graduates emphasise the importance of being yourself more than any other graduate scheme I applied for. Throughout the process, I felt that I was valued for what I brought to the table in terms of my personality, previous experience and skill set rather than being assessed against a pre-determined checklist of required attributes. On the wing, this mindset is continued with more experienced prison officers telling us to reflect on others’ practice and adapt those practices that we admire into our own unique way of operating on the landing.
What three top tips would you give your fellow Bright Network members?
- Try lots of different things, otherwise how can you know what you truly enjoy.
- Don’t focus too much on a specific firm or sector. Remain open to different opportunities.
- Always be yourself - you don’t want to be stuck in a job where you can’t be yourself.