Tom Jenkins talks about his experience as a Security, Intelligence and Investigative Practice student at University of Cumbria.

Feeling quite uninspired after two years of sixth form, notwithstanding positive results, I wasn’t fervent about the idea of continuing academic studies; however, after a period of deliberation concerning what might be next, I was enthused when I realised the array of courses that the University of Cumbria had to offer, drawing prospective students away from traditional studies into a blend of theory and practice that would truly unlock potential career pathways. It didn’t take long at all for me to find the ideal course – BSc (Hons) Security, Intelligence and Investigative Practice. Not only did this course sound incredibly interesting, but when I realised it was completely unique in its design and foundation, I got in touch with Iain Stainton to find out more. We all have Iain, Nicole Lees, and the lecturing team to thank for the course’s existence and prosper. Their passion and vision for the course affirmed my decision to get underway with a personal statement and application. At the first opportunity to do so, I travelled to Fusehill Street Campus, Carlisle; first for a Masterclass which offered an enchanting glimpse into the course’s content; and second for an Open Day, which provided an insight into university life and all its extracurricular offerings. Cumbria was set to be home for the next three years.

I think I can speak for most people when I say the biggest obstacle was that minor inconvenience – the covid pandemic… Six months after beginning university in September 2019, the news of an influenza spread across both the news channels and world population. A blink and everything shut down. The buzz of being in halls, spending time with new friends, was gone. The adaptation from complete immersion to virtual detachment, from both fellow students and the course, proved the most challenging period. While it felt, initially, like things were falling apart and motivation was hard to come by, the experience offered a shift in perspective; a slap around the face to be grateful for what I had. If it weren’t for such a fascinating course, led by a passionate and engaging team, this adjustment wouldn’t have been so easy. The transition back into uni life once the pandemic fizzled out was a relief. The fact that (most of) the final year could be spent back in the classroom meant we were able to come together again, engaging in the extremely valuable in-person discussion enabled by the course’s dynamic. To be able to use the Learning Gateway, open 24/7, along with the library, was essential to ensure focus on final year reading and assignments.

With thanks to the course, staff, and fellow students, I was fortunate to undertake various relevant work experience periods and internships throughout the three years; from security risk management in hostile environments, to immersing myself in the intelligence and security operations of a major bank, situated in the heart of Mexico. I currently work as an Intelligence Analyst, embracing each opportunity and challenge I’m confronted with, transferring course components into the real world. I would say the most important, truly fundamental driver is passion. Passion and enthusiasm for the course you’re going to study. It’s this that will drive results and it’s this that will maintain focus and determination during the uphill battles. Specific to the Security, Intelligence, and Investigative practice course, or any subject for that matter, is the significance of work experience alongside university. While the university was a great facilitator of connecting with industry experts, it’s crucial you grasp every opportunity to broaden your understanding of the topic and industry relations. If it weren’t for the theory and practice combined, I firmly believe the chances of entering this industry would be slim. So, all in all, enjoy what you do, maintain focus, craft opportunities and capitalise on them… you won’t regret it!

If you're interested in joining our BSc (Hons) Security, Intelligence and Investigative Practice programme, click here Security, Intelligence and Investigative Practice

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