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Ugurcan Erdem, Placement Student - Gang Violence Reduction Unit

Ugurcan ErdemDid you enjoy your work placement?

I enjoyed my placement a lot. It was very practical, I got to go out a lot rather than spending a lot of time in the office and I got to meet some great people. I had to go to City Hall to meet the Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime, which was a real honour. I got a lot more out of it than I expected.

Why did you want to do a work placement?

When I heard that you could do a placement year I thought it would be an invaluable experience that would give me a head start in terms of being more employable. It also gave me the chance to have a year out from doing essays and exams, but I knew that it would be a great opportunity to go and experience something different. One year working with the GVRU will really stand out on my CV.

Was there a reason you chose to work with a Gang Violence Reduction Unit?

I come from a background where there is a lot of gangs and crime, so when I saw this placement advertised I knew it would be a great opportunity for me. I didn't even think about it, I just knew that I had to apply for it.

It is a unique team because it was formed in response to rising gang membership in Lambeth but their strategy is going to be rolled out across London so it was great to be a part of that.

Did you learn new things while on placement?

I learned how to write differently, in a professional capacity rather than writing academically. I learned a lot about time management, body language and communication. I had at least two meetings a week and you have to be able to communicate properly, show that you're listening and attentive. It was important for me to give a good impression, and to show that I wanted to learn, study and gain new experiences.

What did your placement involve?

The Gang Violence Reduction Unit is a multi-agency team, so there are units for probation, youth offenders, crime data analysis. There are dedicated personnel at each agency, so there is a huge team and it's really unique. It's built to help and support offenders so it's a very flexible team.

We would get referrals from the police and other agencies, and then go out and meet the gang members or gang-affiliated people to ask them questions and try to build a rapport with them. I also went on prison visits with a team of probation officers and went on a home visits with my supervisor.

What sort of support did you receive from the organisation?

We worked very closely as a team and were communicating constantly. Every week I would have a meeting with my supervisor to talk about what went on that week. I write down my skills, what I've seen and experienced in my logbook, and we would go through them each week. My supervisor would also review my experiences and give me advice and suggestions on things to improve and work on.

Would you recommend going on a work placement to other students?

When else will you have the opportunity to go out and do something that you really want to do? Middlesex actually has the service there to help you do it and provide the support to help you develop and get the best experience on placement. When else will you have that opportunity?

What was the placement application process like?

Every so often the Employability Service sends emails advertising the available placements, but you don't get a response from every placement you apply for. I had the opportunity to work as a prison guard, I went through the interview process and was offered a placement, but when I saw the gang violence placement I knew that I wanted to apply for that.

What sort of support did you receive during the application process?

The support was great. They are really helpful when it comes to your CV, application and interview. The transition of going through the application, selection, interview and confirmation stages was very smooth and straightforward. There is no need to worry about it too much, you just have to take it as it comes one step at a time.

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