10 Tips for Getting Ahead in Criminal Justice
We’ve mentioned before the various jobs criminal justice administration students can look forward to with their bachelor’s degree, and that list is nowhere near exhaustive. But when we look into long lists like these, or see some of the nation’s top policymakers, police chiefs and more — people succeeding in careers we dream of one day — it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the work that it takes to get there. Our goal is to shed some light on ten things that can be done as an undergraduate to make life a little easier down the road.
Setting short term and long term goals is one of those things we know would help us, but few people ever take the short time to follow through. Make a point to sit down and figure out just where you want to be when you graduate, and ten years from there. Even while you’re studying, keeping that eye on where you want to be one day will be in the back of your head, and you’ll think with a new mindset.
Join a club.
Think about joining the Criminal Justice Association, the Student Government Association or the other various clubs, honors and professional groups Alvernia University offers for professional development and outreach.
Get to know your professors.
Participate in class. Utilize office hours. Your criminal justice professors are important resources. Remember that they, too, are passionate about their fields and they have tons of experience, connections and great advice.
Befriend the future you.
Find a role model who holds the position you aim for one day. Whether that’s a partner at a law firm or a police chief, make connections and find someone who wants to invest in you. Finding a mentor can be hard. Talk to your professors or other connections you might have in your future field, and see if anybody would be interested in taking you under his or her wing.
Read… a lot.
Never stop reading about current events in your field. Subscribe to relevant magazines and follow important thought leaders in your future field. Things are always changing. Become a lifelong learner, and try to read something every day.
Learn the law.
No matter which way you go in criminal justice, making a priority to understand the way our legal system works will get you further. Know the legal process, citizen rights and the lawful ways to conduct interviews or
Take care of yourself.
Your health is important. Your brain works better when you’re eating right and exercising often.
Attend a lecture.
Thought leaders are presenting on campus all of the time. Check with your professors or the event schedule for what is happening. Often, community lectures are small enough that you can stay after, introduce yourself and ask questions.
See things differently.
Try to see every perspective of the issues you read and hear about. Appreciate the opportunity to talk with several professors and experience multiple viewpoints and methods on every issue and topic.
Be a good citizen.
Vote, recycle, follow the speed limit. Simply put, obey the laws. One day, when you’re going through character fitness for your state bar exam or undergoing an intense FBI background check, you’ll thank the younger you for practicing good citizenship.
These things, mixed with taking advantages of the opportunities provided by your bachelor’s program — internships, research, close relationships with professionals— will help you get ahead and gain experience in your future field.