Matt’s story

24 years old, Lichfield

Where did you grow up?

Lichfield, Staffordshire.

What did you study in higher education?

Criminology with Policing and Investigation at the University of Cumbria.

Why did you decide on this subject?

Living at home with my dad, I realised that I was always interested in his career. My dad works as a fraud investigator and I would always ask about his day and would enjoy hearing about his work, and I began to think that this could be the career for me. 

I found a criminology and investigation course at the University of Wolverhampton and so went along to the open day and the talk before the criminology course talk was about a policing course; we decided to go to that to fill our time but it was here that I realised that a career in the police was what I really wanted. After doing more research, I found a course at the University of Cumbria studying policing, investigation and criminology which sounded like the perfect course. As choosing a course is a huge and important decision, I also went along to the open day; at first my family were unsure because Cumbria was a 4-hour drive from where I lived, but my dad agreed to take me to the open day in Carlisle. I knew after looking around the campus and speaking to the staff and students that this was the place I wanted to be.

What did you study at sixth form or college?

I picked A Level subjects I enjoyed studying at GCSE; Business Studies and English along with a new subject that I hadn’t studied before; Sociology. I chose Sociology because it was promoted as the study of people and society and that sounded interesting to me.

Has your career / education taken any unexpected turns?

I was that kid who always enjoyed school and my teachers and family would always tell me that I’d make a good teacher, which I disagreed with at first but actually I began to think of it as a potential career. I decided during my A Levels that I wanted to become a secondary school teacher, and decided to look at English courses at university with the goal of becoming an English teacher.

I began attending university open days, looking at English courses, but soon realised that in reality I wouldn’t be suited to an English course. I was panicking a little as I now had no clue what I wanted to study, but knew I wanted to go to university and time was slightly running out. I realised that I was always interested in my dad’s career as a fraud investigator and I would always ask about his day and would enjoy hearing about his work, and I began to think that this could be the career for me. There was a problem with this, though, as I had no idea how to get into this profession. However, whilst in a school lesson, we were asked to find a university or college course that would interest us and I optimistically typed in the word investigation into the search bar on UCAS and was amazed to find there were many courses in this area.

What was the best thing about studying with your university, and on your course?

It’s by far the best decision I have ever made. Since moving to Carlisle in 2013 and starting my course at University of Cumbria, I knew I had a made a fantastic decision. Everything just suited me; the course, the city, my accommodation, the campus, everything. And I genuinely mean that. I really felt I belonged and that was clearly true as 5 years later I’m still here and loving living and working here.

I thoroughly enjoyed studying my undergraduate degree in Policing, Investigation and Criminology because I was studying a subject I was extremely interested in, I was being taught by experts in the field who shared my passion for the subject, and I liked that my degree covered a vast range of subjects and I could shape my degree how I wanted through choosing my modules. I studied things like how crime is investigated, techniques for interviewing suspects, victims and witnesses, why people commit crime, looking at real crimes and analysing them, the history of the police, how crime is reported in different types of media, hate crime, criminal justice systems from around the world, young people and crime and so much more.  

I graduated with a 2:1 but having enjoyed my degree so much I was keen to study certain areas further so I completed a postgraduate course in Interpersonal Violence and Abuse. I have no doubt that I made the right choices regarding what I studied and where I studied and I can’t imagine studying anywhere else or any other subject. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I frequently get asked when I’m going to use my degree’ and I assume what they mean by that is that I haven’t gone into a job that’s connected to the subject I studied. My reply to this question is always that I have used my degree as without it, I wouldn’t be in the job that I’m currently in and if I didn’t go to university, I would have never discovered the career I have now working in higher education – a job I love and a career I want to pursue. That doesn’t mean to say I won’t ever work in a job associated to my degree, because I can go into this line of work if and when I wish to. Additionally, university has changed me as a person for the better. I have met many people from different walks of life and backgrounds that I would not have met otherwise. 

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

Don’t ever discount a potential career option because you don’t know what the route to that career is or you don’t think you can do it. Get out there talking to people, there will be a careers team in your school, go and speak to them, they’re there to help you achieve your goals, not judge you or them. Get online and do your research about all the different options and courses available; you may be pleasantly surprised at the range of different options available to you. Finally, don’t leave it too late, even if you don’t know what to do, start thinking about what you enjoy both inside and outside of school and what you’d like to pursue as a career, whatever that may be.