In Detroit, it certainly pays to be flexible when it comes to finding work, especially in short-term circumstances. You might find that that one career you’ve prepared your entire professional life for just isn’t suited to you anymore. Then it takes hard work and determination to use the skills you’ve learned to find the future and path you’ve always dreamed of finding.

Business Owner Erica Tevis (photo courtesy of Erica Tevis)

Business Owner Erica Tevis (photo courtesy of Erica Tevis)

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Erica Tevis graduated in 2001 from IONA College in New York State with her master of science degree in criminal justice and worked as a revenue officer for the IRS for several years. Later, she used her education to form her own business in 2003.  For the past 10 years, she has been actively self-employed in e-commerce.

After graduation, how hard was it to transition to the working world? 

“I graduated with my B.S. in 1999 and began applying to job openings at, local and state government agencies. I knew it would take a while for the hiring process, so I immediately began a graduate degree program while I actively job searched. I was also working full time as a retail store manager and going to grad school at night, so I knew if I was hired in the CRJ sector I could continue my education or work around my schedule. I was hired by the IRS as a revenue officer in June 2001 while I was finishing my master’s thesis. From the time I applied to being hired was at least a year.”

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How important is a solid education within your field?

“I think within the criminal justice field, especially within the federal government sector, my education was valued and helped me move forward quicker than some of my co-workers. I went from a grade 5 officer to a grade 11 officer in just a few years. In my current field, e-commerce, I am self-taught in many of the aspects of search engine optimization, keyword analysis and social media marketing. I don’t believe there are any formal courses or degrees for these positions as the algorithms for the search engines change constantly. Education is great when first entering into the working world, but in my opinion, skills, experience and results-based performance outweigh a degree when climbing the corporate ladder. Also networking really helps to land that ideal job. It really is about who you know.”

Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

“My advice to individuals going to college for criminal justice is this: It’s not the CSI television show like you see on TV. The real world in the criminal justice field isn’t glamorous, it is grueling. Be prepared to know that you won’t change the world. Apply to every job you think you would love to do. Intern and network with people in your field, but most importantly, don’t give up. As long as there is crime, you will have a job.”

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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