It wasn’t until Michel Molnar was drafted into the Swiss Army aged 19, that he realised that a career in national defence and law enforcement was the perfect fit for him. In his current role as a border guard, responsible for controlling the people and goods entering and exiting Switzerland, Michel is applying skills that he learnt as an undergraduate on the BSc (Hons) Policing and Criminal Investigation course at UCLan.
“My degree has helped me in two different ways,” Michel explained. “Firstly it gave me an advantage over other applicants whenever I applied for a new position. I should mention that in Switzerland it is still rare to find police officers who attended university. Most law enforcement personnel come from a blue collar background and then slowly work their way up. The other advantage was that many of the training courses were a lot easier, since the relevant topics had already been covered during my time at UCLan.”
After graduating in 2010, Michel spent the first year at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing, China where he worked in the Defence Attaché Office. He then spent some time in Tokyo, Japan working for the German Culture Institute until he returned to Switzerland where he became a First Lieutenant in the armed forces, being second in command of a logistics company. After two years he decided to switch to the civilian side and applied for the Swiss Border Guard (SBG) where he currently works on the North-Western border region dealing with customs, security and migration related issues.
“The majority of all border guards are generalists, as am I, and enforce over 150 national and international laws simultaneously, by patrolling a designated border region. People are either stopped and searched randomly or based on prior information and intelligence.”
Although his course has undoubtedly helped Michel get to where he is today, the fondest memory that he took away from university and his time in Preston was the overall UCLan experience.
“Studying means becoming part of a community. Your classmates, your teachers, your roommates, the people of Preston. You take that away and you lose what makes the experience so unique. One example is the library, in which I spent countless nights almost all by myself while writing my dissertation; but what I remember is the security guard who was always up for a chat and the owner of the convenience store who sold me coffee at 2am. Memories consist of people and not things.”
TOP TIP FOR UNDERGRADUATES: “Be aware that university is not high school. You are supposed to self-organise and no one will do it for you. You might only have to be present in a classroom for a few hours each day. However, thinking that the rest of the day can be spent doing nothing is a grave mistake. You are expected to do most of your work outside of the classroom.”