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How do i know that the career i want is what i am really going to do?

I like criminal justice. I've liked it since 6th grade. I know a lot about topics I need to know in criminal justice. I don't know if this is going to be my real job or not #career


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Cindy’s Answer

You don't and will never know for sure, however there is no right or wrong. Every decision you make will lead you down a path which will lead to other paths and open up other doors for you as well. If you that is your field of interest right now, go for it. As you begin your career, many networking doors will open for you and you may find yourself continuing on the exact path that you started on, or may veer off into a related field. What's key is that once you make your decision, you give it 110%! Your hard work will follow you regardless of your path.

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Kim’s Answer

Jocelyn,

It sort of sounds like you are destined to work in the criminal justice "industry," although, everything is subject to change!

There are so many different jobs that touch on criminal justice. To name just a few! Sometimes you might move between some of these, you don't always just start and stay at one job. Sometimes you change jobs for career growth opportunities, or because your interests change, or for better pay. Sort of start thinking which "side" you want to be on - the side that catches/punishes criminals, the side that tries to help people accused of crimes to defend themselves, or the "social service" side, trying to help people to reform, help victims of crime, etc. Those are sort of broad categories, but, here's some of the potential positions.
1. prosecuting attorney
2. defense attorney
3. pre-trial sentencing investigator
4. Crime victim advocate
5. parole/probation officer
6. law enforcement/detention officer
7. juvenile justice system
8. data analytics - looking for things like recidivism rates, crime patterns by neighborhood, etc
9. administrative - record keeping, prisoner processing
10. management -policies and procedures, budget, personnel matters, etc
11. human resources -hiring and retention, compensation and benefits, EEOC compliance
12. logistics -supplies -ordering, shipping, receiving, where to house a sudden influx of prisoners, etc.
13. dispatcher
14. evidence technician
15. specialties such as mental health, drugs, homelessness, or Veterans affairs within the justice system

hope this helps!


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Gillian’s Answer

Great question! While I can't speak directly to careers in criminal justice specifically, what I can suggest is to ask yourself would this role combine your skill/strength and your passion? If you find you are both good at this topic and have a love of it, then it sounds like a good career choice for you. Careers that combine your strengths and your passions will maximize your chances of success. Criminal Law is exciting, diverse, challenging and tough! So starting with strong work ethic, a love of solving problems and an attention to detail will serve you well. If this is the career for you, I'm sure it will be a very rewarding one.
However, it's important to also stay open-minded and don't lock down on your career choices too early. Take some time to really get a feel for what the job entails both from a study, exams and experience perspective. Stay open to other roles that have aspects of criminal justice in them but are not directly part of the criminal justice system. Staying open-minded ensures you are not closing off other career options for yourself.

Gillian recommends the following next steps:

Talk with someone working in this area: If you know of someone working in this area or in a specific role, ask if they would have 15-20mins to talk to you about what it is really like to work in this role. Ask them what they love about the job and what they dislike. This will give you a real sense of the day-to-day work and what it takes to work your way up to the "big" roles we all see on TV
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Check out this blog which has some great insight into pursuing a career in criminal law https://www.nesl.edu/blog/detail/everything-you-need-to-know-about-becoming-a-criminal-lawyer
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Sun’s Answer

Hey! Congrats on having a starting point with your long term interest in criminal justice.

There are lots of awesome ways to get a "feel" of whether you want to pursue a career in this field.

I have listed steps below.

Sun recommends the following next steps:

Identify your "WHY" : Write Down/ Idea Map what specific topics in criminal justice you are drawn to and write down "why is this interesting to me". It may seem silly but writing out the reason(s) for your topic(s) helps you see if there is a pattern of things that keep your interest and prevent your mind from drifting else where. You can imagine having a job as a police officer differs from someone in CSI (crime scene investigating) vs a Lawyer. This will save you time for the next steps.
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Internships/Work Experience: A good rule of thumb is to look into any volunteer/ work opportunities once you've pinpointed the topics about Criminal Justice that you're really drawn towards. If you're in High School still, you can google search/ ask your school counselor for things you can do in your community regarding Criminal Justice work. If you are in college, ask your criminal justice professors about their experiences prior to being a professor as well. They have years of experience to pull from so I'm sure some may surprise you with the options they can offer.
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Miranda N.’s Answer

Hey Jocelyn, I totally understand this struggle. I went to college for marketing, certain that it would be my dream come true...fast forward two years into my marketing career, and I was miserable. It doesn't happen to everyone, but it's not uncommon that what you study to be isn't what you become. For me, this meant transitioning to something else within the world of business. For you, you may want to be, say, an attorney right now, but may find in a decade that you want to work on the administrative side of things. You can't predict the future, but what you can do right now is learn as much as you can--not just about criminal justice, but about whatever classes you need to take to get your degree--and develop transferable skills. I work in property management now--a far cry from the nonprofit marketing I did at the start of my career. But soft skills, like an eye for detail, good interpersonal communications, and strong relationship-building, all go a long way and will help you transition laterally later, if you so choose. If what you want to do now ends up as the perfect job, great! Then you've just developed some good skills anyway.

Hope that helps. Wishing you the best of luck!

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Landis’s Answer

Hey Jocelyn!

I have a similar feeling about education. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but I am not sure anymore. One thing that was really helpful for me was having a zoom meeting with a professor in that major. After talking to an EDU professor, I wasn't sure if that is what I wanted, but she was also able to give me info about similar careers.

Hope this helps!

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Maya’s Answer

jocelyn B,
This is a great question, and my advice is to see it as a journey, a life "metro" where you can try, learn, keep asking yourself by exploring, seeking "hands-on" experiences, look for an opportunity to "shadow" and join someone who is actually doing it, meet and interview openly those that made the decision in the past.
After you get some sense and feeling of how the day-to-day looks like, ask yourself if you find it as interesting, inspiring, and motivating as you feel now. If the answer is yes keep exploring, if the answer is no, take a different route that will get you to meet your passions.
Stay open-minded, set yourself a table of advantages and concerns, and make sure you follow your heart.

Good Luck,


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