A conversation with a West Midlands Police officer based at Birmingham Airport led PC Gurdeep Karra to make the life-changing decision to switch careers.
Gurdeep had always loved the idea of policing but ended up following a different path and after struggling with some formal education, he worried that the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship might not be for him, but he took the plunge and applied last year.
The 23-year-old successfully joined our three-year training programme in June 2020 and is now on his placement at Dudley NPU, forming part of the Halesowen neighbourhood police team.
As part of National Apprenticeship Week we are sharing the experiences of our apprentices working across the force. Here, PC Karra explains how he’s enjoying his training while accepting additional support with his formal learning, from Staffordshire University and our WMP training team.
“Some people never really know what they want to do from a young age, the time came for me when I was in high school and joined the public services course. From there I knew I wanted to work within a public service job but it was very difficult to decide a career path. As time went on and I started to mature I knew I wanted to be in the police, but the opportunity wasn’t available when I was in school so I decided to go to college and continue with the public services course.
“I then joined Birmingham Airport where I was for four years and met so many different people. I got to know people within different departments and started to feel at home, this was until I started engaging more with officers that worked at the airport and was told about the opportunity to join the PCDA route. I knew from that point I needed to look into it more and realised that this is what I want. Although people kept telling me the process is going to be long and that I wouldn’t like it, I stuck it out and now look where I’ve ended up! I’m eight months in and I most definitely do not regret joining, being a police officer has changed my mentality and has definitely improved me as a person!
“I’m the first out of my close family that have joined, so it’s all new to me! There is no typical day in the police, every day is different. Some days it can be hard and some days it can be easy and with a strong team behind you and the support of both those colleagues and the force overall, there’s help for any situation you may be in.
“The university side of things is obviously fairly new but the lectures are delivered by people who know what they are talking about as most of them are ex officers from a high rank. Their experiences may benefit our development and they offer great support. It is very challenging having to balance the job alongside university work, but it is all about organisation.
“I originally struggled as academically I’m poor but recently I have been told I have dyslexia and the support given by the force alongside the university has helped me so much, especially when my confidence was at a low. This will help me better myself and operationally provide me with support. The university is brilliant, they do one to one support sessions for me, which I am grateful for. As each session goes past, I gain more and more confidence! So I am proof that the support is there if you struggle academically or feel you may have any disability, such as dyslexia. Definitely don’t hide it and try to muddle through!
“As a student there are good days and there are bad days. I see the bad days as more of a learning curve and take any constructive feedback, as it will help me get better as an officer and improve for the next time. The good days are the best days as you can go home and be happy with what you have done and the difference you have made that day! And be proud!
“I joined the police as I’ve always wanted to make a difference and I’ve always felt the need to put others first and help people. If I didn’t join I honestly do not know what job I would’ve gone for. This is a career for life – there are ample opportunities within different departments. I’m hoping after my probation to either become a detective or even a part of the regional organised crime unit.
“My most memorable moment would be the day that I helped someone in a mental health situation and although it was tough and there were raised voices I did not once raise my voice as I genuinely wanted to help. Being able to help someone who is in a tough place and talk with that person will make you see things differently and will most definitely help you develop and fully understand how situations are dealt with!”
If you’d like to follow in Gurdeep’s footsteps, take a look at our PC Recruitment page, where there’s also information about the support available for anyone from our staff associations and Positive Action team.