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    Hi all, and I apologise in advance for the confusing, rambling mess that this post will no doubt turn in to.

    I am currently in my third and last year of a Criminology course at Aberystwyth University, and I am considering pursuing a career in the Probation Service after I graduate.

    After much research, I have found that I first need to apply to be a Probation Service Officer (I may have got the wrong idea here, if I'm wrong, then feel free to correct), then after I pass the qualifications, I will be able to apply for a fully qualified Probation Officer.

    There are no set-in-stone qualifications that I can see ... apart from this extract from a recruitment website:

    • a good general standard of education, typically five GCSE (A-C) or equivalent, including English
    • the potential to complete a work-based qualification
    • some experience of working with offenders or people facing difficult circumstances.
    The first one may be an issue, as I don't have five GCSE at A-C level (but I may have equivalents, but I'm not sure). What I'm asking is, how lenient on this are they on this? I have good A-Levels and I am set for a 2:2/2:1 on my course.

    Last question is this - what kind of work experience do NOMS (National Offender Management Service) like to see in an application? Working with the police, or some kind of offender charity? It says "working with offenders", but doesn't specify.

    Sorry for the huge post - if you can answer any of the questions that are somewhere in this post, then I'll be hugely grateful.
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    Hey!

    Firstly, you may want to read up on the current situation with the probation service as the Government want to privatise it and sell around 70% off. The national probation service will become a lot smaller with dealing with high risk offenders only. This is due to take place next year so new opportunities and changes in criteria may take place within the private companies who will supervise low/medium risk. There is a lot of ambiguity at the moment so it's worth following, I am int raining atm and there is no clarity given on the future of the probation currently.

    Back to the original question, as a graduate you can apply (currently, don't know after changes take place) for the graduate diploma which is a fast track route for graduates to become qualified probation officers. This takes roughly 17months.

    There is the option of going in as a PSO then doing the longer route to become a PO but if you have the relevant degree I highly recommend the graduate diploma route (PQF). They haven't said if this will disappear when it all changes but they have to offer some sort of training route to train new people up so keep an eye out :-)

    hope that helps and wasn't too complicated!
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    (Original post by JCM)
    Hi all, and I apologise in advance for the confusing, rambling mess that this post will no doubt turn in to.

    I am currently in my third and last year of a Criminology course at Aberystwyth University, and I am considering pursuing a career in the Probation Service after I graduate.

    After much research, I have found that I first need to apply to be a Probation Service Officer (I may have got the wrong idea here, if I'm wrong, then feel free to correct), then after I pass the qualifications, I will be able to apply for a fully qualified Probation Officer.

    There are no set-in-stone qualifications that I can see ... apart from this extract from a recruitment website:



    The first one may be an issue, as I don't have five GCSE at A-C level (but I may have equivalents, but I'm not sure). What I'm asking is, how lenient on this are they on this? I have good A-Levels and I am set for a 2:2/2:1 on my course.

    Last question is this - what kind of work experience do NOMS (National Offender Management Service) like to see in an application? Working with the police, or some kind of offender charity? It says "working with offenders", but doesn't specify.

    Sorry for the huge post - if you can answer any of the questions that are somewhere in this post, then I'll be hugely grateful.
    I think it may be worth finding out if you have the equivalent of 5 A*-C GCSE's. Working in Probation requires a high standard of English (verbal and written). Maths is always helpful and Science too as working for Probation you'll be learning about many different theories which underpin your practice. I'm pretty sure that 5 A*-C is 'essential' on their job spec so I can't see them letting someone through without those grades when they already have hundreds of people applying with A Levels, degrees, etc.

    Not sure why you're mentioning NOMS- yes the Probation Service (as we know it now) falls under NOMS but if you apply for a role you will be interviewed by Senior PO's, not NOMS directors. Nevertheless, you will definitely, definitely need experience to even get anywhere near a PSO role. Having been through the interview process with numerous Trusts I can tell you that the top candidates already have offender management experience, e.g. substance misuse workers. People a bit lower down have experience of criminal justice (e.g. admin roles within CJS) but little direct offender contact. However these people tend to have good understanding of what is required for the role and tend to do well in interview also.

    "Working with offenders" means what it says on the tin- direct offender contact. Victim awareness is a major part of Probation so experience of working with victims and witnesses would also benefit you. Also, getting offender contact experience is vital in seeing if being an Offender Manager is actually the right career for you. There's no point in going for jobs in Probation if you've never had offender contact before- you might turn out to hate it!

    Morale in probation is very low at the moment (i'm a PO, take it from me!) and the job is going to change drastically both in the public and private sectors. Trusts are no longer hiring externally and given that cuts are being made when privatisation happens, it's likely that they won't be doing so for a while. I would hang fire on Probation at the moment and wait and see what the job is like when you've finished your degree. May be worth trying to get in touch with people in a year's time to see. I'll still be around so feel free to PM me. PM me if you have any questions about the Probation Service in general and i'll do my best to answer!
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    (Original post by wren_)
    I think it may be worth finding out if you have the equivalent of 5 A*-C GCSE's. Working in Probation requires a high standard of English (verbal and written). Maths is always helpful and Science too as working for Probation you'll be learning about many different theories which underpin your practice. I'm pretty sure that 5 A*-C is 'essential' on their job spec so I can't see them letting someone through without those grades when they already have hundreds of people applying with A Levels, degrees, etc.

    Not sure why you're mentioning NOMS- yes the Probation Service (as we know it now) falls under NOMS but if you apply for a role you will be interviewed by Senior PO's, not NOMS directors. Nevertheless, you will definitely, definitely need experience to even get anywhere near a PSO role. Having been through the interview process with numerous Trusts I can tell you that the top candidates already have offender management experience, e.g. substance misuse workers. People a bit lower down have experience of criminal justice (e.g. admin roles within CJS) but little direct offender contact. However these people tend to have good understanding of what is required for the role and tend to do well in interview also.

    "Working with offenders" means what it says on the tin- direct offender contact. Victim awareness is a major part of Probation so experience of working with victims and witnesses would also benefit you. Also, getting offender contact experience is vital in seeing if being an Offender Manager is actually the right career for you. There's no point in going for jobs in Probation if you've never had offender contact before- you might turn out to hate it!

    Morale in probation is very low at the moment (i'm a PO, take it from me!) and the job is going to change drastically both in the public and private sectors. Trusts are no longer hiring externally and given that cuts are being made when privatisation happens, it's likely that they won't be doing so for a while. I would hang fire on Probation at the moment and wait and see what the job is like when you've finished your degree. May be worth trying to get in touch with people in a year's time to see. I'll still be around so feel free to PM me. PM me if you have any questions about the Probation Service in general and i'll do my best to answer!
    Thank you for your reply, it was very helpful.

    I'm sure I have 5 A*-C in GCSEs (or at least in equvilents, which I assume the PS take as well?), but especially when it comes to English, I am quite eloquent and can prove myself to be higher than the required standard for a minimum C in GCSE English.

    If I have to take resits to achieve GCSE C+ in a few subjects, then so be it, but I hope it doesn't come down to that, as I think it would be plain to see by any employer that I can operate sufficiently, even if I don't have a slip of paper to prove it. I hope less precedence is put on GCSEs than what you're saying, as I have achieved First Diplomas, National Diplomas and soon a degree in the time from when I took my GCSEs. I think precedence should be put on the most recent qualification, rather than ones taken nearly seven years past. Still, I'll have to wait and see.

    I have been in contact with my university careers office and they are looking at sorting me out some work experience within the probation service, or a relevant area. I understand how imperative experience is within a job like this, so I am working hard to make sure I get some behind me before I look at applying. You say wait a year or so, and that is what I may have to do, but do you think there will be more openings come July/August time this coming year? I graduate in July, and obviously, I will be looking at going straight into a career. However, I understand that this is quite optimistically ambitious, and I may have to wait for an opening, especially with the upcoming difficulties that the Probation Service will be put under.
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    (Original post by JCM)
    Thank you for your reply, it was very helpful.

    I'm sure I have 5 A*-C in GCSEs (or at least in equvilents, which I assume the PS take as well?), but especially when it comes to English, I am quite eloquent and can prove myself to be higher than the required standard for a minimum C in GCSE English.

    If I have to take resits to achieve GCSE C+ in a few subjects, then so be it, but I hope it doesn't come down to that, as I think it would be plain to see by any employer that I can operate sufficiently, even if I don't have a slip of paper to prove it. I hope less precedence is put on GCSEs than what you're saying, as I have achieved First Diplomas, National Diplomas and soon a degree in the time from when I took my GCSEs. I think precedence should be put on the most recent qualification, rather than ones taken nearly seven years past. Still, I'll have to wait and see.

    I have been in contact with my university careers office and they are looking at sorting me out some work experience within the probation service, or a relevant area. I understand how imperative experience is within a job like this, so I am working hard to make sure I get some behind me before I look at applying. You say wait a year or so, and that is what I may have to do, but do you think there will be more openings come July/August time this coming year? I graduate in July, and obviously, I will be looking at going straight into a career. However, I understand that this is quite optimistically ambitious, and I may have to wait for an opening, especially with the upcoming difficulties that the Probation Service will be put under.
    Don't want to rain on your parade, but I graduated in 2010 with a Criminology and Sociology degree. I wanted to go into the Probation Service, but I found it to be mission impossible, especially with the whole reworking of the Probation and so forth. My advice, keep trying by all means, but perhaps seek a career which is maybe similar to probation and a lot easier to get into! I have work experience coming out my ears which is so relevant to joining the Probation, but I can't use it, which is annoying! :/

    But all the best and good luck
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    (Original post by DancinBallerina)
    Don't want to rain on your parade, but I graduated in 2010 with a Criminology and Sociology degree. I wanted to go into the Probation Service, but I found it to be mission impossible, especially with the whole reworking of the Probation and so forth. My advice, keep trying by all means, but perhaps seek a career which is maybe similar to probation and a lot easier to get into! I have work experience coming out my ears which is so relevant to joining the Probation, but I can't use it, which is annoying! :/

    But all the best and good luck
    Damn, that's unfortunate :/ What career - if any - have you chosen instead? What kind of career areas are similar?
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    (Original post by JCM)
    Damn, that's unfortunate :/ What career - if any - have you chosen instead? What kind of career areas are similar?
    I have gone into HR instead! Not what I wanted to do, but I still get to learn a bit of law, although not criminally related as such. However I do still search and have a look at the job market every so often to see if anything is advertised in the local area - degree related

    You can still work with offenders but maybe search for charities/organisations who specifically deal with such people? That's where I did my voluntary work experience.
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    (Original post by DancinBallerina)
    I have gone into HR instead! Not what I wanted to do, but I still get to learn a bit of law, although not criminally related as such. However I do still search and have a look at the job market every so often to see if anything is advertised in the local area - degree related

    You can still work with offenders but maybe search for charities/organisations who specifically deal with such people? That's where I did my voluntary work experience.
    Ah right. Well, I hope we both find something soon! Thanks for the advice.
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    (Original post by JCM)
    Thank you for your reply, it was very helpful.

    I'm sure I have 5 A*-C in GCSEs (or at least in equvilents, which I assume the PS take as well?), but especially when it comes to English, I am quite eloquent and can prove myself to be higher than the required standard for a minimum C in GCSE English.

    If I have to take resits to achieve GCSE C+ in a few subjects, then so be it, but I hope it doesn't come down to that, as I think it would be plain to see by any employer that I can operate sufficiently, even if I don't have a slip of paper to prove it. I hope less precedence is put on GCSEs than what you're saying, as I have achieved First Diplomas, National Diplomas and soon a degree in the time from when I took my GCSEs. I think precedence should be put on the most recent qualification, rather than ones taken nearly seven years past. Still, I'll have to wait and see.

    I have been in contact with my university careers office and they are looking at sorting me out some work experience within the probation service, or a relevant area. I understand how imperative experience is within a job like this, so I am working hard to make sure I get some behind me before I look at applying. You say wait a year or so, and that is what I may have to do, but do you think there will be more openings come July/August time this coming year? I graduate in July, and obviously, I will be looking at going straight into a career. However, I understand that this is quite optimistically ambitious, and I may have to wait for an opening, especially with the upcoming difficulties that the Probation Service will be put under.
    Experience doesn't have to come from the Probation Service itself, substance misuse are ALWAYS crying out for volunteers/students etc and it's perfect offender experience. Homeless shelters would be good too.

    I don't want to frighten you off, but I really doubt there will be jobs going in July/August. They've already stopped hiring externally, and they're making 30% cuts in October 2014 which will probably include large amounts of staff. It's not likely they will hire people if they know they have to chop people anyway which is why you might have a wait ahead of you.

    However, summer onwards will be the perfect time for you to gather the experience you need to work for the Probation Service. Try and get in witness service, youth offending, hostels/homeless shelters, working for the council, substance misuse, etc etc and build up your experience. Not only will it help you get a PSO/PO job, but if you go straight into the grad scheme without any of that experience you will be feeling left very out of your depth- being an Offender Manager requires people who are a jack of all trades (masters of none!).

    Try not to listen to people who say that it's impossible to get in to Probation. It's difficult (the grad scheme especially) but achievable. You need to prep well for interview, be confident, have the right skills as a person (open-minded, good listenner/communicator) and the experience. You'll be fine. However, none of us have any clue what being a PSO/PO after the transformation will look like. So do your research once the transition has happened too!
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    (Original post by wren_)
    Experience doesn't have to come from the Probation Service itself, substance misuse are ALWAYS crying out for volunteers/students etc and it's perfect offender experience. Homeless shelters would be good too.

    I don't want to frighten you off, but I really doubt there will be jobs going in July/August. They've already stopped hiring externally, and they're making 30% cuts in October 2014 which will probably include large amounts of staff. It's not likely they will hire people if they know they have to chop people anyway which is why you might have a wait ahead of you.

    However, summer onwards will be the perfect time for you to gather the experience you need to work for the Probation Service. Try and get in witness service, youth offending, hostels/homeless shelters, working for the council, substance misuse, etc etc and build up your experience. Not only will it help you get a PSO/PO job, but if you go straight into the grad scheme without any of that experience you will be feeling left very out of your depth- being an Offender Manager requires people who are a jack of all trades (masters of none!).

    Try not to listen to people who say that it's impossible to get in to Probation. It's difficult (the grad scheme especially) but achievable. You need to prep well for interview, be confident, have the right skills as a person (open-minded, good listenner/communicator) and the experience. You'll be fine. However, none of us have any clue what being a PSO/PO after the transformation will look like. So do your research once the transition has happened too!
    Indeed, my careers advisor is currently looking at work placements in and around the area of probation, and I have also asked for possible placements in the areas you stated. Any experience in that kind of area will no doubt be beneficial.

    The transformation is a speed bump, I must admit, but things will no doubt calm down soon enough - I just hope that there will be opportunities when it comes along. As the cuts are happening in October, how long after the privitisation will it take for things to calm down enough for new jobs to be advertised? Just a ballpark figure.

    The grad scheme is probably the way I will enter, if such a scheme pops up again any time soon. Where will this be advertised? I assume it will be advertised through the individual probation trusts, but I thought I'd check with someone in the know, so to speak.
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    (Original post by JCM)
    Indeed, my careers advisor is currently looking at work placements in and around the area of probation, and I have also asked for possible placements in the areas you stated. Any experience in that kind of area will no doubt be beneficial.

    The transformation is a speed bump, I must admit, but things will no doubt calm down soon enough - I just hope that there will be opportunities when it comes along. As the cuts are happening in October, how long after the privitisation will it take for things to calm down enough for new jobs to be advertised? Just a ballpark figure.

    The grad scheme is probably the way I will enter, if such a scheme pops up again any time soon. Where will this be advertised? I assume it will be advertised through the individual probation trusts, but I thought I'd check with someone in the know, so to speak.
    The probation service is splitting into private/public in April 2014- but only small companies will take over the private side of things. In October 2014 (I say October, I have a feeling it's been pushed back to June 2015) the big companies such as Sodexo etc (whoever wins the bids for the Probation contracts) will take over and make the 30% cuts.

    If i'm right about it being pushed back until June 2015, then that's when the cuts will be made. I imagine that some staff will be unhappy with the new job and will leave, and new posts will come up late 2015/early 2016. That, however, is a complete guess. Although the private companies (and public) plan on making cuts, they may choose to cut lots of admin, managers, HR, I.T. etc, and keep all the PSOs/POs and also hire new ones. So you MAY see opportunities for PSOs/POs creeping up for private companies around June 2015.

    Grad scheme is your best bet. We have been told that the grad scheme will stay in the public Probation Service, and it won't change/alter. You'll see the grad schemes advertised on individual probation trust websites as well as some job search engines such as indeed, jobsgopublic etc, but they will be advertised by the trusts first. The only thing I don't know is when they'll open the grad scheme up again. I also imagine that they won't be able to take on as many grads as they do now, given that the public Probation Service will be a lot smaller and will therefore have less funding. This will probably equal more competition.

    If you don't see any grad scheme posts advertised in the future, it may be worth ringing HR of your local public Probation Trust to enquire when their next intake is. If you ring now, chances are they won't know as we really are all in the dark!

    I wish I knew when everything will "calm down" but unfortunately no-one has a clue at the moment. It's a frustrating time and an even more frustrating time for those wanting to get into Probation.
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    (Original post by wren_)
    The probation service is splitting into private/public in April 2014- but only small companies will take over the private side of things. In October 2014 (I say October, I have a feeling it's been pushed back to June 2015) the big companies such as Sodexo etc (whoever wins the bids for the Probation contracts) will take over and make the 30% cuts.

    If i'm right about it being pushed back until June 2015, then that's when the cuts will be made. I imagine that some staff will be unhappy with the new job and will leave, and new posts will come up late 2015/early 2016. That, however, is a complete guess. Although the private companies (and public) plan on making cuts, they may choose to cut lots of admin, managers, HR, I.T. etc, and keep all the PSOs/POs and also hire new ones. So you MAY see opportunities for PSOs/POs creeping up for private companies around June 2015.

    Grad scheme is your best bet. We have been told that the grad scheme will stay in the public Probation Service, and it won't change/alter. You'll see the grad schemes advertised on individual probation trust websites as well as some job search engines such as indeed, jobsgopublic etc, but they will be advertised by the trusts first. The only thing I don't know is when they'll open the grad scheme up again. I also imagine that they won't be able to take on as many grads as they do now, given that the public Probation Service will be a lot smaller and will therefore have less funding. This will probably equal more competition.

    If you don't see any grad scheme posts advertised in the future, it may be worth ringing HR of your local public Probation Trust to enquire when their next intake is. If you ring now, chances are they won't know as we really are all in the dark!

    I wish I knew when everything will "calm down" but unfortunately no-one has a clue at the moment. It's a frustrating time and an even more frustrating time for those wanting to get into Probation.
    Right, thank you for all of your advice and answers, it really has been a great help and a huge insight. I hope your career isn't directly impacted, and I hope that I eventually get a chance to join you. Again, thank you.
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    (Original post by wren_)
    Experience doesn't have to come from the Probation Service itself, substance misuse are ALWAYS crying out for volunteers/students etc and it's perfect offender experience. Homeless shelters would be good too.

    I don't want to frighten you off, but I really doubt there will be jobs going in July/August. They've already stopped hiring externally, and they're making 30% cuts in October 2014 which will probably include large amounts of staff. It's not likely they will hire people if they know they have to chop people anyway which is why you might have a wait ahead of you.

    However, summer onwards will be the perfect time for you to gather the experience you need to work for the Probation Service. Try and get in witness service, youth offending, hostels/homeless shelters, working for the council, substance misuse, etc etc and build up your experience. Not only will it help you get a PSO/PO job, but if you go straight into the grad scheme without any of that experience you will be feeling left very out of your depth- being an Offender Manager requires people who are a jack of all trades (masters of none!).

    Try not to listen to people who say that it's impossible to get in to Probation. It's difficult (the grad scheme especially) but achievable. You need to prep well for interview, be confident, have the right skills as a person (open-minded, good listenner/communicator) and the experience. You'll be fine. However, none of us have any clue what being a PSO/PO after the transformation will look like. So do your research once the transition has happened too!
    You say "Try not to listen to people who say that it's impossible to get in to Probation. It's difficult (the grad scheme especially) but achievable." - I graduated 4 years ago, & have the most amount of voluntary work experience out of everyone in my year & searched the entire country for positions....YET I still can't get into the Probation Service. That to me signifies the impossibility of getting into probation! I don't know anyone who has been successful at getting into the probation service during the last 4years!!

    However that said, I understand that with the shake up of the probation service, things are tough which on the flip side of things I wouldn't advise anyone to go into the service during the next 10 months until things have settled & the status/quota on positions has been confirmed. I'm thinking along the lines of job security; nothing worse than starting a new job & getting the boot several months later!! With that said, I would advise people to seek a position that works with people of a similar clientele, get experience & once everything has settled with probation, then start applying for positions.

    I do not discredit what you've said, just thought I'd throw my opinion out there :-)



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    I am in my third year and I graduate in 2018 July......... my degree is in criminology yes and I have no experience in the field but I do have knowledge. However I'm looking to do a masters in youth justice, community safety and applied criminology MA which specialises in probation etc when I complete that under a year and want to apply for probation work do I still got to do the level 5 and the level 6 graduate diploma still or just the 15 month level 6 or 5 on it's own because I really don'
    Wanna waste time and money on masters........


    (Original post by LJP_blondie)
    Hey!

    Firstly, you may want to read up on the current situation with the probation service as the Government want to privatise it and sell around 70% off. The national probation service will become a lot smaller with dealing with high risk offenders only. This is due to take place next year so new opportunities and changes in criteria may take place within the private companies who will supervise low/medium risk. There is a lot of ambiguity at the moment so it's worth following, I am int raining atm and there is no clarity given on the future of the probation currently.

    Back to the original question, as a graduate you can apply (currently, don't know after changes take place) for the graduate diploma which is a fast track route for graduates to become qualified probation officers. This takes roughly 17months.

    There is the option of going in as a PSO then doing the longer route to become a PO but if you have the relevant degree I highly recommend the graduate diploma route (PQF). They haven't said if this will disappear when it all changes but they have to offer some sort of training route to train new people up so keep an eye out :-)

    hope that helps and wasn't too complicated!
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    As far as I understand it, you can apply in one of the two in takes summer and autumn. To probation training. Which will include the level 5 and 6 . its called pqip. However in your case your experience will let you down as they recommend previous experience before you apply. I would say at least 12 months so no need to do the masters. Just gain experience. I could be wrong.
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    (Original post by Webster-linton)
    I am in my third year and I graduate in 2018 July......... my degree is in criminology yes and I have no experience in the field but I do have knowledge. However I'm looking to do a masters in youth justice, community safety and applied criminology MA which specialises in probation etc when I complete that under a year and want to apply for probation work do I still got to do the level 5 and the level 6 graduate diploma still or just the 15 month level 6 or 5 on it's own because I really don'
    Wanna waste time and money on masters........
    I am employed in Probation and I believe that PQiP 5 has just opened for applications until the end of the month. The framework has recently changed, in that perviously in order to apply you used to have a Criminology degree that covered specific modules. Now, you can apply with any degree, but the length of your training will be extended in order for you to study the modules required if you don't already have evidence of these.

    However, as you be required to demonstrate previous experience of working with individuals who display challenging behaviour - usually at least 12 months. This does not have to be experience of working with offenders, as I know people who have secured a place where they have used previous bar work experience or overseas teaching. If you don't have the relevant experience, there are a lot of local projects that you can get involved with that can boost your prospects.
 
 
 
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