Employment Counselor | Open Records Specialist
San Antonio, Texas
Christina, As a woman in Law Enforcement, you will need to "prove" yourself to earn the respect of your peers. This is true of all rookies, but more so of women. It just means that you are quick to back up your fellow officers, don't talk about what goes on, are able to control suspects, and know how to handle yourself when things get physical. And, you need to not go whining every time someone makes a slightly off-color comment. This will get you ostracized. That is, you need to learn to be "one of the guys."
The most common thing I've noticed about women in law enforcement is they think they can make a difference in the world, and have a "social worker" mentality. Many eventually leave, and go into health careers. Much of what you do is babysitting. The same people get drunk and stupid every Friday night; enforcing child custody orders, helping "adults" to be able to work out their differences, etc. That's the streets. If you advance, you can of course go into investigations, recruiting, community relations, and things like that, which could be interesting.
I would recommend talking to the women in the dept, and see how long they have been there, and find out about the turnover rate. Beyond that, you want to look at opportunities, and pay and benefits. Many departments pay extra for a degree. Look at the training. Do they provide the minimum, or can you get extra training through the department?
Things I wish I had known: that it would someday end. Sounds obvious, but be planning for your second career. You can easily get physically incapacitated, due to on the job injuries or other personal health problems, at any time. Continue your education. Some people start a side business, such as acquiring rental houses.
Also, that as you age, shiftwork becomes more difficult to handle. The body does not adjust as easily. So you really want to plan to advance into a regular 8-5 position.
Overall, it was a great experience, and I'm glad I did it. Hope this helps, feel free to follow-up with me!