Jobs that give back: My frontline career

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Making a difference

Four young people forging frontline careers – as a firefighter, nurse, police sergeant and coastguard – talk about their passion for making a difference, and how they’re doing things their younger selves may not have thought possible.

Uroosa: firefighter

Uroosa, 28, is a firefighter in Nottingham, responding to urgent 999 calls with her crew. She was first inspired to pursue a career in the fire service when firefighters came into her school to deliver a talk. After leaving school, she worked as a personal trainer for several years, until applications in the fire service opened in her area.

The fire service say Uroosa is the UK's first hijab-wearing active firefighter. She has been working with the service to find a breathable and practical hijab for the job.

No two days are the same in Uroosa's job – as well as attending incidents, she spends time training, learning, practising her skills and out in the community doing safety work.

I think I’m definitely part of the journey of trying to change the face of the fire service. I think people seeing me don’t always expect me to be a firefighter.

Uroosa's top tips

  • Do your research into what the role involves
  • See if you can talk to your local firefighters about their work
  • Be patient if the recruitment process isn’t open in your area – you can still build up useful experience in the meantime.

For more information about roles in the fire service, head to Izzy's story, Elis' story and Ludwig's story.

Anokhi: police sergeant

Anokhi, 25, is a police sergeant in Essex. She manages a team of 17 officers who respond to 999 calls in her local area. She’s been in policing for over two years, first joining the force through the Police Now graduate scheme, and has been in her current role as sergeant for four months.

Before joining the force, Anokhi didn’t think it was a role for her. She’d never met or interacted with a police officer before and didn’t know any personally, but she felt it was really important to have someone from her community on the force.

Being a British Asian woman in the police force does mean that sometimes you're the only one in the room, and that's something you have to deal with, but it is slowly changing and I actually see more and more British Asian people and people of colour joining the police, so that's lovely to see.

Anokhi's top tips

  • Try not to be too intimidated by the application process. It does take a while but that doesn't mean it's not worth it – it is!
  • During the interviews, you'll be asked to respond to scenarios to see how you would react. They want to see how you would behave in real life, so don't be tempted to act!
  • Embrace your own unique set of skills. Everyone is different and the police has a place for everyone.

To hear more about life in the police force, check out police constable Dylan's story.

James: mental health nurse

James, 23, is a mental health nurse working in Liverpool. Having originally planned to study Politics at university, he found a passion for healthcare whilst working in a care home when he was 16. He changed his course to Nursing and has recently qualified.

In his current role, James mainly works with elderly patients with dementia, caring for his patients and administrating medication. There is no such thing as a typical day for him – each patient needs individualised care so every day is different.

Certainly there are stereotypes of nursing – it’s considered a female role. In truth, most nurses are female but it's certainly not a role that’s gender specific... anyone who has the passion and drive to become a nurse can become a nurse.

James' top tips

  • Speak to student nurses to find out what it's like to train
  • Try to improve your communication skills – these are really useful for talking to patients and their families
  • When you're building experience, don't be afraid to say what you want to learn.

To learn more about life in nursing, check out our How to become a nurse collection.

Sydney: maritime operations officer

Sydney, 23, is a maritime operations officer, coordinating emergency responses to coastal and maritime incidents along the south coast of England. She takes 999 and mayday calls, sending out coastguard rescue teams, lifeboats and helicopters to assist people who need rescuing. A typical shift starts at 7am or 7pm and involves speaking to lots of different people, such as members of the public and the other emergency services.

Sydney studied Film Production at university but found out about her current role whilst working as a RNLI lifeguard during her summers. After overhearing conversations with the coastguard over the team radio, she thought it sounded like an interesting career but that you'd probably need prior maritime knowledge for the role.

The moment I realised I could do the job was when I saw it advertised on the civil service website. I read the job criteria and realised I didn’t need any specific experience on boats and that I was eligible to apply.

Sydney's top tips

  • Try to get experience of talking on the phone and radio – maritime operations officers need to be able to talk calmly to people who are stressed or in high pressured situations
  • Don't be put off if you don’t have any maritime experience, you’ll learn all you need to know during your training
  • Do your research and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Hear more about life as a maritime operations officer on Sydney's job profile.