For students seeking a criminal justice degree, college is an exciting and busy experience. Luckily, we’ve pulled together four secrets that will help you excel in criminal justice school.
1. You Can Fill Your Resume While in School
As you’ve probably heard many times before, experience is one of the most important pieces to landing many jobs. College is a great time to gain relevant experience in the criminal justice field. Not only can gaining experience help to prepare you for a successful career once you graduate, but it can also add value to your college experience.
Consider these methods when looking to gain experience while in college:
With the various career directions criminal justice graduates can take after graduation, a job shadow may give you an opportunity to “test the waters” and determine if a specific job is one you want to consider. If you are interested in becoming a police officer, some police departments may allow a civilian ride-along. Considering a job in corrections? Local correctional facilities may allow you to spend a day with a correctional officer.
Speak with your instructors or criminal justice program chair to determine if they have connections who may be willing to setup a job shadow with you.
An internship is a great way to gain experience. As part of some criminal justice degree programs, an internship may be required. Even if it is not part of the curriculum, consider completing one. In addition to adding value to your college experience, internships can also turn into full-time jobs.
2. Your Instructors are One of Your Greatest Resources
While completing criminal justice school, your instructors may serve as a major resource to you. They have the knowledge and experience to help prepare you for your future career. It may be worth your while to get to know your instructors and ensure they remember you after graduation.
Consider the following ways to get to know your instructors:
- Stay after to introduce yourself
- Attend an instructor’s office hours
- Join study sessions your instructor may set up
Because many criminal justice instructors have worked in the field, they may have access to valuable connections. If they have the opportunity to get to know you, they may be more likely to provide you with a letter of recommendation or keep you in mind for internship opportunities.
3. Subscribe to Industry Blogs and Connect with Industry Leaders
Staying up to date with industry trends is an essential part of preparing for a career in criminal justice. In the criminal justice field, many are sharing their knowledge and experience with those who are interested through blogs and online forums.
With a simple web search, you may be able to identify blogs dedicated to many areas within the criminal justice field. Subscribing to industry blogs can serve as a strong resource for your classes while in college.
In addition, take time to seek out industry leaders who you can connect with on LinkedIn or other social networks. By building your online network you may be exposed to information by local, national and international experts.
4. Get Involved Right Away
It is relatively easy to meet people while in college. Just about everyone is in a new environment and is excited to be there. Take this time to get involved for the purpose of getting to know people as well as networking.
Some colleges may have student clubs or groups dedicated to students studying criminal justice. Involvement in student groups can give you a chance to get to know your fellow classmates while participating in events such as field trips, subject matter expert presentations and more. Student clubs put you in situations where you can network with those who may be able to help you secure a job.
Also look into local off campus criminal justice associations or networking groups to join. These groups create a laid-back environment to meet professionals working in the criminal justice field. Fostering relationships with professionals who are currently working in the field can give you a solid group of people to call on for assistance with job searching.
*Some states, including Minnesota, require training in addition to our criminal justice degree program for employment as a peace officer (deputy sheriff, police officer or state patrol officer). This program does not fulfill Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements. Please check your state’s Peace Officer and Standards Training (POST) board requirements to determine eligibility for this profession.