Gemma Hagen

'It was so helpful to have people working in the field come and talk to us...'

  • Gemma hagen

Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Human Services

Probation Officer, Department of Corrections, Christchurch

Though Gemma had been living in Wellington and spent a year travelling overseas, she wanted to ‘explore the South Island’ and chose to attend UC to study.

‘I’d heard great things about studying at Canterbury and felt attracted to its social and outdoor opportunities.

‘I enjoyed having access to research papers, lecturers and libraries all on one campus. I loved eating lunch at Ilam gardens and in the beautiful gardens on campus. And Canterbury was much cheaper than anywhere else to live!’

Choosing her major subject was at first a matter of trying everything available within a Bachelor of Arts degree. It was her interest in human services which drove her choice in the end.

‘I’ve always been interested in criminal profiling and the prison system in New Zealand. After my first year trying out all sorts of different papers, I found that what I was looking for was complemented by the papers and lecturers at the School of Social Work and Human Services.’

Gemma currently works at the Department of Corrections, assessing offenders in the community and in prison and evaluating their risk of reoffending. She also manages their conditions when sentenced or released from custody, and liaises with their families and the community to minimise any risk of reoffending and harm to others.

Her career choice was guided by a lecture from a senior probation officer discussing possible career opportunities for her study and what to expect.

‘To me, this matched the career path I wanted to take and I was able to meet with this person who ended up on my interview panel. It was so helpful to have people working in the field come and talk to us. I love the training opportunities, and learning from experts in the field.’

Though she loves her work, she intends to return to postgraduate study sometime in the future to widen her knowledge in this area. ‘At the moment, I’m focused on building up my skills in working with offenders from my colleagues and from other available research and training opportunities,’ she says.

If you are looking for the chance to engage with your future career, Gemma recommends that you grab any opportunity that comes up.

‘Get as much experience as you can, even volunteer if you have the time, as it will complement your study and open your eyes to opportunities available once you have finished.’

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