Gina coordinates the No Knives, Better Lives campaign in Scotland. She studied both her first degree, MA (Hons) in Sociology and Politics, and her postgraduate MSc in Childhood Studies at The University of Edinburgh
With so much competition for interesting jobs, I was looking for ways to get a head start. So, in the summer before the final year of my first degree, I began working as a researcher for an MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) who was a spokesperson for children and young people within her party. It was the experience of this job which sparked my interested in going on to do childhood studies as a postgraduate degree.
Since completing my postgraduate degree, I have worked for a number of voluntary sector organisations and have continually looked for developmental opportunities and challenges. Where funding from employers for professional development has been very limited, I have looked for opportunities to which I can volunteer some of my spare time.
Over the years, I have built up a good knowledge of policies affecting children and young people and now communicate children’s issues to policy makers, practitioners and children or young people.
My current position is a 13-month secondment. On behalf of the Scottish Government, I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of their anti-knife crime youth engagement initiative across Scotland (called ‘No Knives, Better Lives’).
My degree in childhood studies was very relevant in helping me secure this job as it gave me a sound understanding of the principles of conducting research with children and young people. It also enabled me to learn about the key policies underpinning childhood in Scotland and develop an understanding of child development and children’s needs.
No two days are remotely the same. No-one else does exactly the same job as me - the post is unique. My BlackBerry is never far from my hand; the thing I do most is speak to people.
I spend a lot of time travelling to different parts of Scotland to meet people who are (or who are interested in being) involved in working on the anti-knife crime campaign. I look for new ways of working on the topic and review lots of creative ideas and project proposals.
Some of the most enjoyable time is spent with young people who have strong views on how things should be made better and also with the advertising agencies when they present their new ideas.
The principles and values we were taught on my degree course are central to my daily practice and I still refer to some of the methodology and policy literature.
I love getting to meet and work with a huge range of people - teachers, youth workers, young people, police officers, doctors, prison officers, ex-offenders, sportspeople, civil servants, Ministers, local government, academics, PR, media agencies, creative agencies, actors and a whole host of others.
The most challenging aspect of my job is balancing all the competing demands on my time; since my job is an untested model of working, I sometimes underestimate how long it will actually take to do things.
It is never too early, or too late, to think about interesting things you can do to boost your CV. The greater the diversity of things you have been involved in, the better. Employers will see you as someone who can turn their head to lots of different things.
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