If you’re looking at a career, one of the things you have to think about are the opportunities for development. Working for a small start up gives you lots of experience and could get you in on the ground floor of something huge, but professional development relies on you creating opportunities for yourself. If you want to follow a more traditional path of training, improvement and promotion you need to look to a large, established company, with institutional experience you can benefit from and a hierarchy you can climb. Many careers follow a path beginning in large, established businesses, out to smaller, newer ones that allow them assume more responsibilities and make them for themselves before returning to a big, old company in a more senior capacity.
This is what makes it worth looking at the prison and criminal justice system. It’s an employer as established as the NHS (if not more so!), and with plenty of scope for you to acquire skills and develop within the organisation. And one thing it’s important to bear in mind is that not all jobs – or even a sizeable majority of the jobs – are in a frontline, prisoner-facing capacity. While there are plenty of probation officer jobs, based in prisons and working with prisoners and the recently released, the criminal justice system is a huge endeavour, an army that requires enormous logistical support. There are plenty of opportunities and vacancies for administrators, HR staff and procurement officers, amongst many others, in the system itself as well as its supporting charities. This gives you a framework in which you can acquire experience, and more responsibilities and seniority, building a firm foundation on which to build a career.
The flexible needs of the prison system, and the high priority the work has to take means working for them is a great opportunity to build out your career even if it’s not somewhere you see yourself working in the long term. If you do see a future there, however, you benefit from several government incentives, including a robust and healthy pension scheme and generous holiday allowance that make it well worth while!
Taking account what you want out of a job and a career, and what motivates you helps you make good decisions about any particular job you might consider. If it doesn’t move you towards your eventual career goals, it might not be for you! But if you take a broad view and look at the transferable skills and experience on offer, you might find that working for the prison service is the perfect choice for you.