Individuals don’t always use their earned degrees to land the cookie cutter-style job that is laid out for them in their respective fields. In Detroit’s ever-changing job market, one of the best attributes a candidate can have is the adaptability to not only fill a demand made by a tough economy’s situation, but to evolve in a position using their specific talents and strong suits. In the end, many folks find themselves in a career not often associated with their specific degree, but they end up loving what they are doing all the same.

Lisa K. McDonald, owner and principal, Career Polish, Inc. (photo courtesy of Lisa K. McDonald)

Lisa K. McDonald, owner and principal, Career Polish, Inc. (photo courtesy of Lisa K. McDonald)

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Lisa K. McDonald is the owner and principal of Career Polish, Inc., a company dedicated to helping individuals find their ultimate career. Lisa has years of experience with training in management, leadership, interviewing, recruiting, coaching and development for small companies, as well as Fortune 500 companies, including McDonald Investments/Key Bank, Merrill Lynch and Prudential. Lisa earned her bachelor of science in criminal justice and is also a career coach and certified professional resume writer.

What is the most relevant aspect of your education that applies to your day-to-day job?

“My education in criminal justice taught me how to ask questions and touched on several different facets from criminal law, investigation, sociology, psychology and transcended — all stakeholders in the field from law enforcement officers, criminal investigators, social workers, judges and civic groups. Having the opportunity to study such a diverse set of individuals, industries and environments, we learned to ask questions – the why and the what happens next and what can we do to prevent or make it better.”

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How important is a solid education within your field?

“An important factor of education is the step beyond attending school and earning that degree. It’s being able to communicate your value to your prospective employer. What courses are relevant and why, how are you participating in your own education and how are you able to take what you have learned and apply it towards your future employer’s benefit? Being a star in the ‘book world’ is great, but what an employer really wants to know is if you are trainable. Can you take that knowledge and incorporate it to solve their needs, help them grow and increase their value to their clients.”

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

“I would have reached out to alumni and others in the field much sooner to hear about their experiences after earning their degree. I would have done more informational interviews and researched what would and would not change once I earned my degree. Oftentimes, I find those in college are pursuing a certain degree, but don’t know what to expect once they have finished the coursework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask for help and do not be afraid to change directions. You have invested this much in yourself by getting your degree so don’t short change yourself now by not taking advantage of all knowledge around you.”

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

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