Looking for a career where you can make a real difference? That’s exactly what Michael was searching for when he discovered Unlocked at university. Now a recent graduate member of the team, he shares what makes Unlocked special, his favourite aspects of the role and finally gives essential tips for future applicants.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Michael and I studied International Relations with a year abroad at the University of Birmingham. I’ve always been really interested in social justice, making a change in society and helping the most disadvantaged people. I’ve always liked the idea of working in the Public Sector or in a Charity organisation – that kind of thing. So, all of this really drew me to Unlocked when I was in uni. I actually found out about them at a careers fair, and at first, I thought “this is really interesting” – I’d never heard of anything like this before. It just seemed like the mission of Unlocked really matched what I always had in mind for myself. It was really cool because I didn’t realise there were organisations out there that really matched the morals and ideals that I had. Since finding out about Unlocked, and with my passions, I knew I really wanted to be a part of it, so I did an internship there and I was a Brand Manager as well in my final year of uni.
What is your role at Unlocked?
I’m a Recruitment Officer with the Attraction team. My job is to work with students and careers services to basically promote our organisation, programme and mission to as many talented individuals as we can. We do that by attending careers fairs, university led events, panels, discussions and so much more. We also speak to and sponsor a lot of university societies in order to promote our programme to them and provide more information about us. I’ve really enjoyed it so far.
The applications have just opened and it’s about to be careers fair season, so I’m really excited about getting stuck into that as well. Usually we would be on campus, speaking to students and at actual stands, but this year everything’s virtual. It’s definitely different, but I think the season in terms of how busy it will be is very much the same!
What stood out to you about the organisation?
I think it was two things for me. Firstly, it was the fact that it was such a great organisation that really looks to make a change to the lives of prisoners and offenders. I’d never really heard of organisations like that, most of them basically focused on helping disadvantaged people. So, when I heard about Unlocked and how they work directly with prisoners and get graduates to work as prison officers it was, to be honest, a bit shocking! But when I looked into it and saw all of the opportunities that Unlocked Graduates have, it really opened my eyes. The graduates get the chance to write a policy paper and there’s a fully-funded masters as well. But it was mainly the passion they have for reducing the reoffending rate and improving rehabilitation that got me interested. Since then, I’ve just really loved the mission of the organisation.
What has the experience been like so far? What has been your favourite aspect? And the most challenging aspect?
My favourite part has been the relationships I’ve been able to build so far. I’ve been interacting with the careers services of different universities and seeing what events we can get involved with. I’ve also been speaking to societies - there are a lot of different ones that cover such a range of topics, from cultural societies to more career focused ones. They’re all really interesting and excited about promoting our programme to their members. I’ve spoken to our campus Brand Managers as well and they just sound so passionate and locked into what we’re doing.
In terms of the most challenging, it’s been getting used to a new job while working from home. Luckily though, my team are really helpful and responsive if I need anything or have any questions.
What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?
I’d say, when you’re applying you should draw on all your experiences, all experience is good experience! What Unlocked is looking for generally is people with experience of leadership, communications, teamwork – things like that, so show us what you’ve done, even if it seems like it won’t be directly relevant.
I’d also say you should really show your passion for the criminal justice system and just helping people in general. Working at an organisation like this, it’s really important to show that your personal morals align with the company. At the core of whatever your role is, we all share the same common goal of reducing reoffending, increasing rehabilitation and helping the most disadvantaged people.
Did Bright Network help you secure this role and, if so, how?
It definitely did. I’d say from a more advice perspective, all the resources they sent me while I was at university were really helpful. The commercial awareness and interview tips in particular were great at showing how you can be successful in the application process for different jobs. I think as well, when you sign up and tell them all of your interests and what you actually want to do. This will make all the future communications with them really relevant to you and what you are looking for. So, as a Social Sciences student, I was always really interested in Politics and Charity, so the information I was sent by Bright Network was all tailored to me. I think this was all really helpful in giving a realistic expectation of what the world of work would be like as well as giving me the tools to decide what I wanted from my career.
Anything else you’d like to say to Bright Network members about Unlocked?
Unlocked as an organisation is very unique. You’re working on the frontline, helping disadvantaged people who might not always have been given the opportunities that they should have. Whilst you’re doing that, you also have things like the fully-funded masters and the chance to influence the policy as well. I’d really recommend any Bright Network members to find out more about us, explore our programmes and see if it’s something you might be interested in.