Seven recent criminal justice graduates talked about their experiences transitioning from college students to working professionals at a virtual alumni panel hosted by the Criminal Justice Honors Society.
Kristy MacDougall, ’21, Isabella Shields, ’21, Tim McGrath, ’21, Quiara Jackson, ’21, Cassidee McDonnell, ’21, Felicity Monfils, ’21, and RJ Silva, ’18, discussed their current positions, how they landed in their chosen profession, and tips for the students as they plan their own professional futures.
“Get to know your professors. A little goes a long way,” said McGrath, who learned about his position in gaming enforcement through a professor.
The alumni said internships are also important and can lead to professional opportunities. A few said they did not know their jobs existed when they began college, and that their plans shifted throughout their college years, based on their classroom or internship experiences.
“I fell in love with paralegal work through my internship at the Department of Labor,” said Monfils, who now works as a paralegal.
Both Jackson, a behavior interventionist working with men re-entering society after incarceration, and MacDougall, a community outreach coordinator for the district attorney’s nonprofit childcare advocacy center, talked about learning skills in college work positions that they draw upon in their professional work. While at Curry, Jackson worked as a resident assistant, and MacDougall worked as an intern in the Title IX office.
The alumni also stressed the power of networking, both in learning about different options and in connecting to professionals in the field. During the panel, students had the chance to ask questions such as advice on interviewing techniques and job placement etiquette.
Shields, currently finishing her first year in law school, acknowledged that the transition between college and the professional world can be stressful, but encouraged students to “step out of your comfort zone. If you don’t know what to do, it’s ok. It’s ok not to know.”
Jackson agreed and said, “It’s ok to take a risk. It’s ok to be nervous, but don’t sell yourself short.”