Missile systems security manager to students: Step outside the ‘big 4 CJ fields’
Alvernia Criminal Justice program alumnus Joe Melander had no interest in becoming a security professional. But a job he took at the Department of Defense “to get a foot in the door” opened his eyes to the actual breadth of skills used by security professionals.
“I would suggest that students don’t limit their career ambitions to the typical big 4 CJ fields: special agents, police, probation & parole and forensics. There is a wealth of careers available using the same skills that provide the same satisfaction. On a regular basis, I interact with auditors, many of which used to be special agents, intelligence analysts, government inspectors and investigators,” said Joe.
Joe, who is from Rockland, Pa., manages 14 employees at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., and is in charge of information assurance, information technology as they relate to maintaining the security of his assigned areas.
“My job is to manage the risk of allowing personnel access to sensitive data in a manner that doesn’t hinder productivity, while still ensuring that data is protected from our adversaries and competitors,” Joe elaborated.
Alvernia’s Criminal Justice Administration degree helped Joe develop the skills security professionals need. The Criminal Law course gave him the ability to defend either side of an argument by using concrete evidence.
“Those research skills are integral to the security profession today,” said Joe.
Other advice for criminal justice students: be computer savvy.
“Knowing how to send an email and post on a blog isn’t sufficient anymore. I recommend everyone takes some basic computer courses and if possible a basic computer auditing or forensics course.”
Joe also recommends doing your homework on the positions available to students with a CJ degree.
“If you see an interesting job opening, do some research, often the job listing is vague. But once you do some homework, you can get a feel for what the job really entails.”