Health and social care - student stories
Mickey Poland, Probation Officer
What do you do?
I am a Senior Probation Officer and run my own team in a very busy inner-city office.
Tell us what you did before studying with the OU
I left school at 15 with no qualifications and always knew I was capable of more. I wasn’t looking for a change in career, but when I was suddenly made redundant and then found myself taking a similar job, I knew I could be doing better.
Tell us about your studies with the OU
I started to study for a social science degree with the OU, but half way through I became redundant again. I didn’t finish my degree with the OU, but because of the qualifications I gained, I was able to complete my degree at Birmingham University – which I did in two years, alongside an NVQ 4, whilst working for the Probation Service.
My OU study also helped me get my position in the Probation Service. During the interview process I was able to use examples from my OU text books for my presentation and relate my experience of studying with the OU. Out of 5000 applicants, I was successful in getting one of 18 posts in the West Midlands.
What did you gain from your studies?
The OU taught me how to study, and in particular, how to get my point across in an essay. My analytical skills – which I need to write reports for court – were developed at the OU; learning how to put together an essay, do the research and quote the sources, has enabled me to do the standard of reports required of a Probation Officer.
The OU is much more accessible than a campus-based university; it’s designed for people with full, busy lives. I have studied with people from all types of backgrounds – I loved the range of ages. It’s a remarkable institution. From an employer’s perspective; OU study shows someone has been prepared to go that extra mile.
The OU helped me get back on track; it was one of those really golden moments when everything seemed to come together. Even though I graduated from Birmingham, I still feel that the OU is my Alma Mater; I view it with great fondness.