In Detroit, criminal justice may lead to a career in law enforcement or protective services, or it could lead to a whole new experience altogether. The wide range of professions that an individual can seek with a degree in criminal justice is only limited to what we attempt to do with it. In some circumstances, if you have a passion for creativity and social justice, you can use a criminal justice degree to help shape and attain a dream job.
Cameron Conaway holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Penn State Altoona and has broken that mold himself. According to his website, “He is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the social justice editor at The Good Men Project. His international investigations into poverty, child labor and human trafficking can be found in publications like The Guardian, The Huffington Post and the Women News Network.”
After graduation, how hard was it to transition to the working world?
“My degree in criminal justice exposed me to the more typical jobs available in the field. I saw the myriad of joys and difficulties of working in prisons. I knew both the pride that comes from civic duty and the divorce rates of police officers. More than that, what studying for the degree burned within me was a sense that I wanted to help others however possible and that there are always multiple perspectives to every story.”
How important is a solid education within your field?
“In many ways, the job market for criminal justice graduates is wide open. While professors at many universities are often hardwired to gear graduates toward the most common jobs, such as those in corrections and policing, many graduates I know later went on to lead rewarding social work careers because their studies taught them about the structures for how and why crime takes place and they sought out work that addressed the root causes rather than the aftermath. Still other graduates go on to study law or branch off into the many fields – like psychology, journalism, philosophy, etc. – that criminal justice often brushes shoulders with.”
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
“Because I was fortunate enough to have great criminal justice professors who showed me the seemingly infinite opportunities available for such a major, I would absolutely do it all over again. My only advice for those wishing to study is to keep your eyes open for such opportunities. They are everywhere but the best aren’t always the most obvious.”
Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at Examiner.com.