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Criminal Justice Career Week

The newly inaugurated Criminal Justice Career Week allowed students and alumni to look for jobs at the Career Fair and get insight from professionals in law enforcement, forensic science, victim services and the legal field.

This spring, the College of Criminal Justice expanded opportunities to help students get jobs after graduation, offering four days of events, including the Criminal Justice Career Fair and professional panels representing a wide variety of careers in the field.

The 2012 Criminal Justice Career Fair included representatives from law enforcement, corrections, victim services, forensics, the military and private security. A total of 45 agencies and 407 students participated in the event, and 27 agencies said they plan to interview Sam Houston State University students for available jobs.

During Career Week, the College also hosted panels featuring professionals from law enforcement, victim services, and forensics, as well as speakers on graduate school and job etiquette.

“We started a Criminal Justice Career Week,“ said Dr. Holly Miller, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs. “It turned out to be a huge hit.”

The Career Fair allows graduates, students and alumni to meet recruiters for job and internship opportunities. Among those who attended the annual event were federal agencies like the FBI; police agencies like the Houston Police Department; victim service groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and private corporations like Target.

“Over the last three years of our Career Fair, employers have set up interviews with several hundred of our students who they met at the fair,” said Dr. Miller. “This is a great opportunity for our graduating undergraduates to make a good impression and obtain contacts and interviews!”

To help prepare students for the Career Fair, Real Talk w/CJ provided a workshop on resumes and interviewing skills. Internship Coordinator Dr. Jim Dozier talked about job opportunities opening up in 2012 and ways to put your best foot forward in the interview process. Michelle Meers of SHSU Career Services also discussed the latest trends in resumes and applying for jobs, including online applications, applicant tracking software and social media reviews.

The students also got to meet professionals in the field at special presentations held throughout Career Week.

Many criminal justice students at Sam Houston State University seek careers in law enforcement and four local police officers gave them advice on how to get their first job.  Municipal police departments, like Conroe, offer many specialties, such a SWAT, patrol, crime scene, criminal investigation, traffic, canine, narcotics, auto theft, juvenile investigator, and fraud. A new uniformed officer generally responds to disturbances, accidents, fights, family fights, and theft.

University Police Officers also provided insight into campus policing and gave tips on how to prepare for life as a law enforcement officer. Among those presenting for the law enforcement panel were Conroe Police Chief Philip Dupuis and University Police Sgt. Candice Sherbenou and Officers Kevin Hansford and Keith Underwood.

In forensic science, representatives from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab offered glimpses into the day-to-day operations in criminal investigations and provided tips on what preparation is needed to get a job in the field.

“CSI proves that a crime has been committed, establishes key elements of the crime, links the suspect with the scene, establishes the identity of the victim and supports or refutes witness testimony,” said Celestina Rossi, a Senior Crime Scene Investigator from Montgomery County. “CSI is like a puzzle, and you’re putting all the pieces together.”

The DPS Crime Laboratory, with 13 locations across the state, discussed the variety of services they provide to law enforcement, including biological evidence/DNA, drug testing, blood alcohol levels, firearms and tool marks, toxicology, latent fingerprints, questioned documents, digital/multimedia, and trace evidence, such as hair, fibers, paint, glass, gunshot residue, shoe prints, and tire impressions.

“You need several different sciences to get into this field,” said Jennifer Pollock, a DNA specialist as DPS in Houston. “We have to keep up with the new technology and techniques and be able to explain it to a jury.”

In victim services, representatives from SAAFE House, the Walker County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety talked about the many opportunities to aid victims in the criminal justice system and how to get a head start in a job by volunteering at non-profit agencies. SAAFE house aids victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, while the Walker County District Attorney serves as an advocate for victims in 2,500 misdemeanors, and 4,500 felony cases a year.

At the TDCJ, the mission is even broader with 155,000 victims of crime and interested citizens. Victims are keep informed  through a 70 point notification process and database. Presenting the victim services program were Kendra Crist, Beth Malak and Janice Sager.

In the legal field, five lawyers serving in public agencies and private practices in Texas talked about the trials and tribulations of their profession.

“There has been nothing more rewarding in my life than being a prosecuting attorney for the state of Texas,” said William Lee Hon (’87), Criminal District Attorney for Polk County. “It’s the ability to feel a sense of self-worth in making a difference in the community. It’s a great thing to represent the voice of the victim and the voice of child abuse victims.”

While Hon presented the case for the prosecution, other speakers offered the defense view of the bar or other types of practices available, such as bankruptcy, immigration law and civil commitments. Among the attorneys who participated were Rebecca Fleming, Adam Wyatt Dietrich, Andrew Bolton, and Rhonda Vickers Beassie.

Dr. Donald C. Martin, author of A Road Map for Graduate Study: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students, provided students with tips on identifying, enrolling and succeeding in obtaining advanced degrees in higher education. Dr. Martin spent 28 years in admissions and enrollment management at such prestigious universities at Wheaton College (IL), Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism), The University of Chicago (Graduate School of Business), and Columbia University (Teachers College).

Greg Monteilh, an employment specialist with Career Service, offered tips on professionalism and etiquette in the workplace. He gave students an insiders’ view of the issues and challenges they may face in the first jobs of their professional careers. This includes the unwritten rules or guidelines of an organization and key components for successful careers.

“A lot of things you do now will help you in your professional career,” said Monteilh, who joined SHSU after retiring from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “These are a set of rules that make you more polished and educated.”


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