Haydn Smith, 28 May, 2022
After working in hospitality and retail for many years Haydn decided it was time for a change! With a keen interest in justice and a desire to make a difference he enrolled in a Bachelor of Justice and hasn’t looked back!
Now in his final semester Haydn’s placement at Queensland Corrective Services highlighted to him the career path he wanted to take. He was offered a part-time position which has successfully led to a permanent role and career that is set to be rewarding and fulfilling.
Here he talks about studying Justice, his placement and juggling a family, work and study as a mature age student.
What made you want to work in Justice?
I wanted to make a difference in the world around me, make a positive contribution to society while still working with people. Working with people is something I have always enjoyed and I thought that a career in Justice would allow me to continue to do this while working in an industry which offers opportunities for career progression. During my studies my partner and I had our first child and balancing having a young family, working fulltime and studying fulltime strengthened my resolve to be involved in an industry which could provide stability and opportunity to me and my family.
How did you find transitioning from working to university? What were some of the challenges?
I was fortunate that I was working fulltime throughout the period of my study, so this was not a major challenge for me, initially I was offered a part-time role, so I was for the first time in a long time working less than I had for the previous few years. Another aspect which helped me to transition from study to work was the fact I had completed my placement in the same agency and office I did my placement in, so I had a level of familiarity with the staff and operations within the office. I was extremely fortunate to be supported by my co-workers and management throughout my transition from study to employment.
The greatest challenge I faced transitioning was managing the real-world complications associated with starting a new job. I had my first child during my studies, so I was juggling the anxiety associated with leaving a stable position in a reputable company for a temporary part-time contract in a government agency. Although I believed I would succeed in my role there were no guarantees, and I am incredibly grateful for the course I completed providing me with the skills to establish myself as an authorised Corrective Services Officer.
Can you tell me about your professional placements while studying?
I did my placement with Queensland Corrective Service within a Community Corrections office. Initially I was quite hesitant to apply for the placement as I wasn’t sure if this was the field which I wanted to work in, I am very glad I did apply. From the moment I set foot in the office I knew this is where I wanted to be. It was a fast-paced environment which was constantly evolving and adapting to risk. The staff were very welcoming and allowed me to experience their day-to-day functions without feeling like was a burden on their time. No day at placement was the same and the scope of the roles available was beyond what I thought would be available. I met great people who worked within the agency and began to have a better understanding of what community supervision looks like from an operation perspective.
Why do you think placements are so important when studying Justice?
Placements provide students an opportunity to experience the functions of agencies and organisations which operate within the justice space and most importantly network and meet people. I treated my placement like an elongated session long job interview. I wanted to present myself as someone who could work in this environment and worked on as many job ready skills as I could during my placement. Placements are incredibly important in making sure you are doing what you want to do and ensuring you will have connections which will help you get employed once your studies are over.
What was a typical day like?
No day was the same for me as I was in a practical skills-based placement the District Manager was incredibly helpful in making sure I was exposed to as many of the different functions involved in Community Corrections operations as were available to me. I was lucky enough to experience an immersion day and listen to presentations from different arms of the Community Corrections umbrella. I started with basic functions and operating the internal systems all the way through to performing tasks to reduce the workload on the staff, by the end of my placement I felt like a contributing member of the office despite the fact I was a student.
What did you get out of it?
Everything. A future, a career, an opportunity to provide for my family and set ourselves up for the future. I received unlimited opportunities as a result of my placement. I was lucky enough to be offered a part-time role at the end of my placement. Which led to a permanent appointment when a role became available. The skills I had developed throughout my working life, studying at QUT and during placement culminated in me being appointed on merit to a permanent position within Queensland Corrective Services. I am extremely fortunate to have received this opportunity all as a result of my participation in the placement program
Did doing a placement influence what you wanted to do when you graduate?
My placement has had an incredibly important influence over what I want to do when I graduate because I am already doing it. The opportunity to be working in an industry specific role prior to graduation cannot be understated in terms of the benefits of completing a placement program.
What advice can you give someone thinking about changing careers and studying Justice?
Take the leap, it is incredibly daunting and incredibly rewarding. My studies in justice have opened opportunities which I simply did not have available to me in my previous career. I have never felt job satisfaction to this level, and I cannot express how supportive and helpful staff and management within Queensland Corrective Services have been in assisting me begin my career in justice. Studying Justice at QUT is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
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