I enjoyed my time at College – it was my first taste of being independent and ‘being an adult’. I studied a mix of subjects that I enjoyed as I was unsure of what I wanted to do in the future. Doing musical theatre and appearing in different shows really was a contrast to studying Law and Maths! In my second year, I completed an EPQ, focusing on how the law and murder convictions had changed through the years. The work ethic I picked up doing this really helped when I was researching and writing my dissertation at uni.

College massively improved my confidence: I recall doing ‘Chicago’ for one of our showcases and feeling nervous and self-conscious. But when we’d finished and I heard the applause, that all just melted away. I remember that feeling now when I am feeling a bit worried – if 17-year-old Megan could do it then, she can do it now!

Initially, I went to university to study Law with thoughts of becoming a barrister. While really interesting, I realised I wasn’t 100% sure about this path. On graduating, I worked at a solicitor’s firm for a while and looked into becoming a conveyancer, but I wasn’t truly passionate about it. Throughout this time, I had a feeling that I would somehow end up within policing – I’d grown up around police officers – but wasn’t sure exactly what.

When an opportunity came up within the police as an Office Manager, I took it, and that’s where I found what I was passionate about – policing and investigations. Over three years, I worked closely with many teams, assisting with case-building and problem solving: One such case earned me a commendation for my part in the investigation, of which I’m really proud. This same case is also what led me to join police communications. I had written a draft press release on the sentencing for our media team to look at, and the Head of News and Media responded with a link to the job they had open. With the full support of my colleagues, I went for it and got it!

So now I’m working as a Communications Officer in the police. As clichéd as it can sound, every day is so different within media relations, communications (and policing!), and you never know what you are walking into. I’ve been involved in a variety of cases that have tested my skills and abilities, but the support and training I’ve received have helped to develop my confidence as a vital team member of an investigation or campaign.

While this might look like a straightforward career path, it is not. I also did secondments with investigation teams and during the pandemic, took on a high workload assisting with the deployment of PPE. I even looked at leaving policing to join the Coroner’s office.

Getting to where I am now hasn’t been easy, but it’s shaped me. Looking ahead, I have just signed up with a mentor from a different police force, and will continue with my professional development as well as work with our production team day-to-day to learn new skills, such as how to edit decent videos!

Outside of work, I am often found volunteering at motorsport events, within Girlguiding or theatre and often find this helps switch off from what can sometimes be quite stressful days.

I’d say to anyone looking to join policing is that there are so many roles open to you when you’re working in the service. Starting my career as an Officer Manager opened up a wealth of knowledge, skills and opportunities that I would not have got otherwise.

If you don’t know what you want to do – don’t worry! When I was very young, I apparently wanted to be a vicar; at school I wanted to do musical theatre; at secondary school it was chemistry; and at university it was a barrister: I am none of these things! Not having a set career path by the age of 18 is absolutely fine and I wish someone had told me that when I was younger. Someone told me recently that not everyone has a career where they ‘climb the ladder’ – some people have jobs that they love and stay in for a long time – and that is ok.

Megan Arrol-Barker

Reigate College: 2012-2014

Higher Education: University of Winchester, LLB Law

Currently: Communications Officer, Surrey Police

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