One of the most difficult tasks in life is choosing a career path. Individuals often question which skills, values, traits, and other qualities they possess that may or may not match up with a possible job that would spark a life-long interest. Even for myself, I am still questioning which direction I am meant to take. I started my original journey at higher education at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in an Exercise Science program destined to eventually end up with some sort of Occupational Therapy Degree because I failed at being accepted in to the Music Department. My journey quickly led me from one major to the next, to the next, and on, and on. Even as I am quite confident that Nursing is my niche, exploring other options is a highly recommended tool to ease the decisions I make in my adult life.
Determining my options depended on my other interests and what else I could do as a career. In some aspects this is the point I had to be slightly realistic in terms of the responsibilities of adult life. Since I currently work as a Correctional Officer, logically a degree in the realm of Criminal Justice would best suit me as my back-up plan should my primary plan fail. As this began to become a more prominent idea, conversations with Shawn Sidelinger, a peer at Main Campus of Lock Haven University currently declared as a Criminal Justice Major, helped me to determine if this notion of mine would be a good fit for me or not. As we began to talk more, I realized I might have jumped to conclusions about this major. I started out asking what programs are available and the average length it takes to graduate; easy enough, for Shawn he is declared as a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and says it should only take him the four years to graduate as long as he stays on track (Sidelinger, 2013). Staying on track once I make a decision is key; so, finding my focus or a focus in general might help me. Possible careers, further education, career interests and career growth were a few of my next brief questions for Shawn to get a feel for why I would want to continue down the path in Criminal Justice. Shawn summed up two questions with enough information to allow me to start turning gears in my head: “State Parole, Probation, Corrections, and those are just to name a few. A B.S. in Criminal Justice is just a starting point; it is a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree that can allow you to get your foot in the door” (Sidelinger, 2013). As for further education, Shawn told me there are many different routes an individual can go in. If an individual starts as an associate’s, he or she can work towards a bachelor’s degree; from there, he or she can work towards a master’s degree, a second bachelor’s degree in an un-related or related field, the possibilities are limitless (Sidelinger, 2013). Adding on to further education, I shared with Shawn that with the Department of Corrections as a Correctional Officer, once an individual attends the D.O.C. Academy, he or she is required to requalify on his or her facility’s firearms yearly to maintain proficiency. Finally, Shawn easily summarized our conversation by talking about career interests; he noted that Criminal Justice is a Public Service field. People working in this field are helping others, in different ways than doctors and nurse, but still helping; that was something I did need to hear because helping is a main criteria of mine. From there, Shawn went on to discuss the nature of working with different types of people, “it can be difficult, they [criminals] can be sly and will try everything in the book and then some; so you have to stay at least two steps ahead of them” (Sidelinger,2013). Just talking with a peer in a field that I’m contemplating helps to broaden my outlook and gain prospective; the other beneficial resource for students is a Professor’s input. Working in a Prison has already given me some insight, but speaking...
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