The main reason that I wanted to go to Middlesex was because of the specific course they offered. I wanted to do something serious about Youth Justice and I was working at the time so I needed to find something that fitted in with my work. I don't think that I found anything anywhere else which fit those criteria, because what I was looking for was quite specialised.
Young offenders were what I was interested in so the course at Middlesex was the subject that I wanted to study. There weren't many other courses that I could find as most of them are just general criminology and I was looking for something specifically relating to youth justice. The course at Middlesex offered that and it fitted in with my timetable.
I liked all of it. The course covered lots of different things spanning broad areas of child protection and youth justice, so we studied child sexual exploitation, youth justice, unaccompanied child migrants and refugees. Most of the modules were pretty fascinating and there was scope for me to take it in my own direction.
I met some really great friends who I still keep in touch with now. I really liked my course tutor Tony Goodman and I had Jenny Pearce for the specialist module on sexual exploitation which was really interesting. I think the things I enjoyed most were learning something new and making new friends.
I would say that they should make sure that they put a lot of effort in themselves. Courses at postgraduate level you have to make a lot of effort in your own time. You have to be enthusiastic enough to read in you own time.
The thing about Oxford is that they have a particular way of teaching, so although there are lectures you are mainly in tutorials and you have to write an essay for each tutorial. So I would see my tutors once every week and that would involve a discussion around your essay. I didn't really go to many lectures because they weren't so important for getting information – your own reading was.
At Middlesex it is more seminar based and I wasn't so used to that because I only had a few of them at Oxford. It was a different kind of crowd obviously, as at Oxford you get a lot of upper class people from private schools, whereas Middlesex had a more down to earth feel. A lot of the people on my course were still working too and wanted to improve their professional knowledge. It was a completely different experience but I really enjoyed that.
It has really helped because I have a youth justice specialism in my job now. I am considered a juvenile justice expert and I work both in the UK and internationally.
Before I did the Masters I worked as a general management consultant, but youth justice was something that I was always interested in. I had studied those subjects within my history degree at Oxford but I wasn't able to do those projects on a daily basis. Once I had the MA and the confidence in the field I slowly moved more into the criminal justice field and worked in criminal justice consultancy within the public sector.
I gradually made the move towards greater specialisation and now I have set up my own company. The course started me off on my path by combining my work skills with academic knowledge and now I'm able to use them together.
I wanted to work in Youth Justice because you are dealing with the children that have suffered the most and get the rawest deal in society. I felt that it was an injustice that they are treated the way they are and I guess I wanted to try and do something about it.
The pros are that it is a subject that I am passionate about and I make a living out of it too, so I just love it. I don't know if there are any cons because I really love it, but sometimes it can be frustrating because people don't implement policies or put things into practice that can actually make things better for children and you just see the same things over and over again across different countries with no real change taking place.
It was a bit of luck and a bit of risk really. I used contacts that I had and built on the experience I had before. I finished the Masters in 2006, but since then I had been moving strategically to do projects that I was interested in, built up my clients and tried to take a leap internationally by just applying for things. One of my first long projects was with UNICEF in Afghanistan and that was good to use as a springboard to other projects.
It is just beginning to get very exciting now, I have my own company and it seems to be going well. I'm doing something that I love and I get to travel around the world and am gradually gaining a voice within the field of youth justice. It is getting increasingly exciting as each year moves on. I haven't really looked back since I did the MA, I'm really glad I did it.
I'm hoping to grow my company and make sure that it's not just youth justice but that it also covers social justice and includes all different elements of subjects that can help people in society, like education, health and social protection. I want to cover all areas, work with charities, public sector and governments, build it as far as I can really and make it a good, ethical company.
The first thing I would say is always try and find what it is that you really enjoy doing and do that. Don't try and make yourself fit into somebody else's ideas about what you should do.
Number two is 'work hard'.
I would also add that in every person's career there are highs and lows, so don't compare yourself with your colleagues or your peers because everyone has times when things go well and when things don't go well. If you're enjoying what you're doing then you should stay on that path because I'm convinced that it will be the right one.
I think that when I was 17 or 18 I didn't know what job I wanted or if it even existed, so I would want to say to myself that you will find it, you just have to keep going forward until you do.