October 12, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of Akron
Northern Arizona University
University of South Alabama
North Carolina Central University
University of Wyoming
Des Moines Area Community College
Pennsylvania State University - Altoona
Bowling Green State University
University of Houston - Clear Lake
University of Indianapolis
Eastern Florida State College
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Wright State University
University of Akron
Department of Sociology
Dr. Stacey Nofziger: The skills needed for careers in criminology are the same as many other careers.
The top skills employers expect to see on college graduates' resumes are, 1) Teamwork - defined as the ability to "Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities," 2) Critical thinking or problem-solving skills, and 3) Analytic and quantitative skills.
Following these are the crucial skills of communication, both written and oral. Several organizations rank communication skills as the most important for Criminal Justice careers.
What a student needs to demonstrate on their resume is their competency in these skills. Experiences such as internships or service-learning projects set students apart. Involvement in research projects, participation in public presentations such as symposiums or conferences, and digital skills such as working with infographics, spreadsheets, and databases are also all experiences that demonstrate key skills. They can demonstrate their commitment to learning and organizational skills by completing certificates, double majors, or even minors.
Dr. Stacey Nofziger: The idea of "soft" skills is somewhat outdated as it implies these are somehow less important than "hard" skills when in reality, most employers value these skills the most. Many organizations refer to these as emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and transferable skills.
The truth is that the most important skills for college students wanting careers in criminal justice or other criminology-related fields are exactly the competencies that are sought by all employers. Being able to communicate effectively both in writing and orally, being effective in teams, time management, and being able to think critically and make informed decisions are all very important in a wide range of criminal justice and criminology careers. In this field, a strong sense of ethics is also highly valued.
Dr. Stacey Nofziger: This is somewhat different depending on what type of career the student is pursuing. Some careers, such as policing, security, and federal agents, require specific standards of physical fitness.
In nearly every criminology-related career, students need computer skills such as familiarity with using databases and using the internet to find credible information. Many of these careers require advanced skills with data analysis, crime mapping software, and other specific software.
Another skill that students often forget is foreign language proficiency. Some of the most highly sought-after positions, such as Federal Agents, require proficiency in very specific languages.
Dr. Stacey Nofziger: The highest paying jobs in criminal justice are those that require additional education past the bachelor's degree. These include lawyers and judges. Others that are highly paid, such as FBI agents, require extensive career experience before most will be successful in entering such positions. Students should not expect to start their careers in such positions but think strategically about how to build their skills in each position they hold to move toward their ultimate goals.
A growing area that is well-paid is intelligence analysis. These careers require more extensive skills in statistics, gathering and analyzing data, and very strong writing skills.
Therefore, the skills that help you earn the most across your life are those that will transfer well into a range of specific positions - those same skills of critical thinking, teamwork, and communication.
Northern Arizona University
Criminology and Criminal Justice
Dr. Luis Fernandez: Strong grades, good relationships with your professors, and a related internship in a recognized organization.
Of course, the resume should be clearly structured, free of bad spelling, and have a professional presentation.
Dr. Luis Fernandez: There is a lot of soft skill that is key for success. They include a good communicator, professional presentation, able to relate well to a diverse group of people. This last one is particularly important and was named to us as one of the key skills for hiring people currently. Further, it is good to know how to resolve conflict and have the ability of an intentional listener.
Dr. Luis Fernandez: Writing, writing, and wring. I can not emphasize enough how useful it is to be a clear and concise writer, regardless of the area in the criminal justice system you work in. It is a skill that takes some practice to master, but it pays off big in the end.
Dr. Luis Fernandez: Active listening, taking careful notes, not interrupting, and asking questions when one needs clarification.
Michael Hollingsworth Ph.D.: Overall there is an increase in the flexibility that people have regarding work arrangements such as working from home. Some of this is likely to stay in place. Regarding political science, there has been a definite expansion of government spending and this probably will not stop as the pandemic subsides. This will expand the job market somewhat for political science graduates who often take jobs in the public sector.
There is also more interest in policy which can expand jobs in that sector. Many other sectors, however, have contracted. These sectors often provided jobs for individuals directly out of college who did not immediately enter a job in their field of study. The service sector and entertainment sectors have been diminished as well as many industries where graduates would have gotten jobs in fields like public relations or lower level management. There has also been a rather large problem with degree inflation.
That's a big trend in the job market today. Lots of people have master's degrees since there are so many easy options to obtain them despite the complete lack of academic rigor in many of these programs. In my experience though there are still good employment prospects and most graduates have been able to find jobs in a field in which they are interested.
Michael Hollingsworth Ph.D.: Technical skill requirements or what is even desirable vary greatly depending on what field a graduate wishes to enter, but there are some general trends that provide maximum flexibility to a graduate.
Employers want to see coding skills normally in the form of Python or another language used to manage data.
Knowledge of R is also a good technical skill. Knowledge of social media and how to leverage this is somewhat important and relatively easy for graduates to pick up. Quantitative skills are in very high demand. These include a knowledge of statistics, a statistical package such as R, Stata, or SPSS, and a more general understanding of numbers. Research methods and a knowledge of what these numbers mean really makes a graduate stand out. These are particularly important for program evaluation and any policy work. Substantive knowledge of an area such as economics, health care, or criminal justice can also open avenues for employment.
Michael Hollingsworth Ph.D.: Salaries have been relatively stagnant in many areas with the exception of jobs that require technical skills such as data analysis or other quantitative work. Salaries have increased in these areas. Overall the salaries for undergraduates in political science have remained relatively stable. There hasn't been a decrease but it has not suddenly become lucrative to enter many of the fields that political science students go into after graduation.
Salaries at higher levels of education have leveled off and become extremely competitive due to degree inflation.
Political science is not the only field to suffer from this. For those who want to enter politics and work in policy or as a legislative assistant, wages are still low for those with undergraduate degrees. Advanced degrees open avenues for higher paying jobs, but these are very competitive within the field. Public sector jobs still have relatively low wages but there is such a wide variety of fields that political science graduates enter that it is hard to characterize a general trend in the overall wage earning potential of graduates.
Hunter Boehme Ph.D.: First, let me say a disclaimer that these responses will most likely vary by geographic location of the country.
Since the pandemic, crime is down overall; however, certain types of crimes have increased such as intimate partner violence. We have also seen criminal trials and adjudications being delayed in the criminal courts. On the corrections side, we see many incarcerated individuals being released early due to Covid-19 health and safety concerns. Further, we have seen increases in drug addiction, mental health struggles, and suicide. Thus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and recent societal discussions stemming from social justice protests to reform the criminal justice system, I see a few jobs within the criminal justice system increase their hiring.
I see social work occupations collaborating with police departments to handle intimate partner violence, mental health crises, and drug addiction cases. I see mental health experts increasingly joining forces with police, courts, and corrections of the Justice system.
Police agencies and prisons, nationwide, will remain stable and continue to hire more officers and corrections officers.
Probation and parole officers are often overburdened with caseloads, and with increased formerly incarcerated individuals being released due to Covid-19 health concerns, I see a need to hire more parole officers to supervise those who were recently released.
With increases in technology, potential criminals no longer have to leave their home to commit crimes. Thus, cybersecurity and cyber-analytics will absolutely be desired.
Finally, jobs not necessarily working "in" the criminal justice system will increase such as non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and community organizations to help in the movement to reform the Justice system. These organizations will have a say regarding the interworking's of the System.
Hunter Boehme Ph.D.: There are many criminal justice occupations that require 3-6 months of training. Thus, they can train you on many job-specific skills. But due to continued evolution and innovation in technology, many jobs are moving online (even for criminal justice). Therefore, technological competency is, and will continue to be desired. As previously mentioned, online criminals use social media, technology, and the internet, thus the ability to be technologically sound will be a welcomed addition for many criminal justice employers.
However, even with the changing technological infrastructure, there are many skills that have been valued by employers for decades that continue to remain very important: proficiency in technical writing, taking initiative on the job, and demonstrating critical thinking and analytical skills. These skills will allow you to succeed and "climb the ladder" within your career in criminal justice. For example, being able to write cohesive investigative, presentence investigation, and incident reports will allow for upward mobility within many criminal justice professions (or, put you "ahead of the curve"). Finally, being able to "think outside the box" to solve problems without supervisors having to motivate you to do so is integral.
Hunter Boehme Ph.D.: I will just put it this way, you do not go into a career of criminal justice for the money (minus a few exceptions). You engage in a career in criminal justice to help people and make a change in people's lives.
Daniel Fetsco: As a criminal justice professor, I have not seen much of a change in the job market for criminal justice professionals as a result of the Pandemic. If anything, there seems to be a greater demand for new recruits given the political and social climate during the past year.
Daniel Fetsco: Criminal justice employers value good research and writing skills. The amount of writing that goes into law enforcement is surprising to many, and being able to research and understand the latest trends in the law and policing is a critical skill.
Daniel Fetsco: I believe a great job out of college is in the correctional field. There are many jobs, such as correctional officer, institutional case worker, probation and parole agent. A person can positively impact their community through those jobs and then transition to other areas of law enforcement if that is the chosen career path.
Amanda Kennedy: I believe one of the biggest trends we are seeing and will continue to see is an increase in remote work, or work from home. As a sociologist, I find this fascinating. On the one hand, disability activists have been fighting for decades to achieve the kind of flexible work policies that the coronavirus pandemic has accomplished in a year, and I believe now that able bodied workers see the benefits, some of those changes will stick. At the same time as I am excited about this, I wonder what impact it will have on workers--for example, few employers will likely cover the cost of their employees' WiFi, so workers will be subsidizing their own work. For folks who have the opportunity to negotiate the terms of new employment, they may want to consider negotiating some of these kinds of costs--computers, WiFi, office furniture (all of which would typically be provided in a workplace) as part of their startup, in addition to typical negotiation around salary and benefits.
Amanda Kennedy: I cannot stress enough how important soft skills are! For college students (and high school students thinking about college), you should be focused on these even more than finding a major that "matches" your career goals. Being able to write succinctly and clearly; being able to communicate effectively and work with others on a team; and being able to critically evaluate information are probably the most important skills to aquire in college. They are valuable in every job setting, and every employer expects you to have them. I may be biased, but this is why I encourage students to major or minor in sociology (humanities are also great for these) above and beyond the pre-professional majors. You will learn industry specifics in your job, but you won't get that job if you can write well, speak clearly, and think critically.
Amanda Kennedy: Sociology feeds into a lot of different fields, all with very different earnings potentials, so it is hard to give sweeping advice for this. Sociology majors go into business settings, helping professions, media, law, and health care. Increasing soft skills, and learning to network well, will at least help you get the job that sets you on your desired path. Some facility with quantitative data analysis can be helpful in increasing earnings if you're headed into business, but may also be helpful for those headed into non-profits, where you may be assessing projects or securing grants. For those headed into social work, an important choice is going to be where you get your MSW, and how many placements you have there- these often lead to your first job so it's an important consideration. Depending on your future path, I recommend that students consider doing at least 1 internship and/or independent guided research project during their 4 years. It's excellent experience, networking, and gives you something interesting to stand out during an interview. Last but not least, learn to negotiate. This can be especially difficult for women, as they are not taught these skills and are socialized to appear modest. Know your worth and get a mentor to help you practice asking for it! Organizations like the American association of university women (AAUW) run negotiations workshops that teach some of these skills.
Des Moines Area Community College
Criminal Justice Department
Barry Thomas: I believe the pandemic will definitely have a lasting impact on how criminal justice graduates operate in the workforce - especially until a majority of our country is vaccinated. Whether it is law enforcement officers on the street, corrections staff in jails, probation officers in the field, or any other member of the criminal justice system, incorporating social distancing and other mitigation strategies will be the norm for the foreseeable future. The business of operating within the criminal justice system will continue, but it will certainly have a different look than it did a few years ago.
Barry Thomas: My background is in law enforcement and without question, the law enforcement profession is beginning to place a premium on candidates that have obtained a college degree. I believe that concept is rooted in the recognition that doing things the way they have always been done is no longer an acceptable practice. Candidates furthering their education at a community college or four-year institution have been forced to think "outside the box" and many law enforcement administrators understand the value that can bring to an agency.
Barry Thomas: When looking for employment in the criminal justice system, I think emotional intelligence is the most important trait any new graduate can possess. Most any position a new graduate will undertake in the criminal justice profession will entail interacting with people. The core components of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy - all soft skills necessary to increase the chance of positive interaction between two people. It is no secret that some of the interactions between society and members of the criminal justice system can be difficult at times. Possessing and utilizing emotional intelligence can help criminal justice professionals to turn some of those difficult moments into positives for everyone involved. That may sound simplistic, but I believe it is foundational in repairing and strengthening the relationships in our communities and new criminal justice graduates have the ability to do just that.
Pennsylvania State University - Altoona
Criminal Justice Department
Lacey Wallace Ph.D.: I think the biggest trend here is "variability". Most areas were hit hard financially as a result of the pandemic. In some communities, local governments may be focused on filling positions because staff were temporarily (in some cases permanently) put on leave. They may not be adding positions for some time. In other areas, there may be a shortage of openings because lower tax revenue means less funding available for job openings. Today's graduates may need to think more broadly about the types of jobs that might match their skills. A criminal justice degree can open the door to positions outside of criminal justice.
The pandemic has also drawn attention to major issues like income inequality, mental health, and systemic racism. Police departments and other criminal justice agencies will need to address these concerns. Some agencies have already improved training and taken other steps to better reach unserved communities. Some police departments, for example, now rely on various agencies in the social services sector to handle mental health related calls. I expect that changes like these will create increased demand for graduates with experiences in fields outside of criminal justice. For instance, having a minor or other certificate in psychology, social services, drug and alcohol counseling, or other fields may make a criminal justice degree more marketable.
Lastly, many universities have used alternative grading systems over the past year. That means employers can no longer rely on GPA as a single indicator of academic performance. Students will need to find other ways to document and showcase their academic strengths and achievements.
Lacey Wallace Ph.D.: The employers who call me for student references ask most often about how well the student interacts with others. In other words, do they get along with students whose backgrounds differ from their own? I always recommend that my students take advantage of courses or training opportunities in cultural diversity so that they can demonstrate those sorts of skills in a concrete way. Employers also ask about accountability, such as whether the student is prompt in submitting work and coming to class as well as whether the student is honest. Having an academic integrity or disciplinary violation can stop a student from getting a job. Employers expect strong communication skills, both written and verbal. To this list, I would add that it is increasingly marketable for students to speak a second language, particular Spanish.
Lacey Wallace Ph.D.: I always tell my advisees that their first job will likely not be their "forever job". Most students graduating now will have 10+ jobs across their career. It's important to choose a job that somehow builds your skillset. It should be in your field of study and should require a college degree. If the job posting is open to high school students, that likely means the job is not going to use the skills students have spent years developing. Graduates should not expect their first job to be high-paying. Those first couple of jobs are more about building experience and developing a professional network. Jobs that pay more usually require several years working in the field. It takes time to get there.
Bowling Green State University
Criminal Justice Department
Michael Buerger Ph.D.: It is my opinion only, but I do not foresee an enduring impact of coronavirus on criminal justice graduates. We have already endured a series of new communicable diseases, and predictably there will be more to come.
Michael Buerger Ph.D.: Aside from learning new protective techniques and methods of providing aid to injured persons, I suspect the average workday is going to look much like the average workday before the pandemic.
Michael Buerger Ph.D.: The advancement of technology is a much greater driver of change, methinks. Certainly the advent of CCTV video in porch monitors, cell phones, and the like has advanced police ability to identify and track suspects, but it has also made cracks in the Blue Wall of Silence, illuminating police misconduct. There is a great need to incorporate different skills training into basic police academy, emphasizing verbal de-escalation and control as well as physical control techniques; there is a parallel need for a different approach to peer support by fellow officers.
Even in the era of Covid masks, advances in optical analysis of eyes (corneas, etc.) are leaning toward a supplement - if not actual replacement - of the traditional full-faced mug shot: a visual fingerprint, as it were. We are not there yet, but the trend appears to be a strong one. (That is distinct from facial recognition software, which has come under challenge on a number of fronts, starting with racial disparities.)
A new area that I am not yet well versed in seems to be the development of forensic analysis tools that "take the laboratory into the field," for all intents and purposes. This, too, will demand a change in training of either entry-level officers or evidence technicians, in order for the results to be sustainable in court in their own. I suspect that the economics of selling the products is a greater driver than scienterrific understanding at the field level: I'd like to be proven wrong, but the process of doing so may require dramatic changes not only to certification training but to higher education programs like ours.
Digital skills are already needed. The FBI kiddie porn investigation that led to the recent deaths of the two agents is only one example; terrorists (both foreign and domestic) use the dark web and other means to plan and coordinate action, as does organized crime (and gang crime, increasingly). Networks are not the only need; however, decoding digital communications even in single crimes for backgrounds of suspects, motives, and the like are already in use, and more needed.
Dr. Kimberly Dodson Ph.D.: Covid-19 has impacted the job market in the criminal justice field. For example, in May of 2020, Governor Greg Abbott signed Executive Order 13 that limited court judges' discretion in releasing individuals with violent charges or violent criminal histories. As a result, counties across Texas have experienced jail overcrowding. Many correctional facilities are understaffed because people are hesitant to apply for jobs that require them to work in a close contact with individuals who are at an increased risk of contracting Covid-19.
In addition, prisons and jails are faced with reducing their populations because the ease of transmission of the virus in these settings. This means there may be a temporary decline in hiring. However, overall, I believe the demand for criminal justice practitioners will remain stable, but I also believe people may be unwilling to apply for certain jobs because of their fear of contracting Covid-19. The demand will remain, but the supply of qualified applicants may be in short supply. Currently, there is a need for corrections, police, and probation/parole officers across the United States. I believe this trend will continue because crime never stops, not even for a pandemic.
Dr. Kimberly Dodson Ph.D.: If a graduate needs a gap year, they should obtain certifications and job-related training or skills. For example, individuals should consider certifications in mediation, crisis intervention, police-community relations, crime scene technician, crime mapping and analysis, and leadership. In addition, graduates should consider reaching out to a variety of agencies and inquire about practicum opportunities. Practicums are brief internships that allow individuals to gain valuable job-related training and allows them to make a determination about which career path is the best fit. Certifications and job-related training increase the individuals' marketability. Graduates should consider pursuing a master's degree in criminal justice, which makes them more competitive for state and federal job positions.
Dr. Kimberly Dodson Ph.D.: Before graduation, ideally your senior year, reach out to career services at your college or university. Career services works closely with faculty and community members to offer support and answer questions about career options. Career services also helps you prepare professional cover letters and resumes that many agencies require as part of the application process. I would also encourage students to seek out career advice from the faculty. Many faculty members have worked in the criminal justice field and they can offer important insights about criminal justice careers.
Cast a wide net when considering a career in criminal justice. There is a perception in criminal justice and criminology that students are locked into law enforcement careers. Criminal justice careers are much more varied. Graduates can explore careers in homeland security, institutional and community corrections, courts, criminal investigations, crime lab analysis, substance abuse counselor, and victims' advocate. Graduates should apply for federal, state, and local jobs. It is important to get their foot in the door and get criminal justice job experience. Don't talk yourself out of applying for a position because you're afraid you're not qualified.
Seek out mentorship from practitioners in the field. Send an email or make a phone call and arrange to meet with a professional working at an agency or organizations that interests you. This is a common request and most agencies welcome the opportunity to give you the benefit of their experience and they frequently offer good career advice and tips for landing your first job.
University of Indianapolis
Department of Criminal Justice
Kevin Whiteacre Ph.D.: I don't know about the job market generally, but criminal justice agencies, particularly corrections and police, seem to be hiring quite a bit. I think in the next year or two there could be a lag as a reduced tax base from COVID shrinks government budgets-and thus agency budgets, as well. Academic jobs, for those graduating with new PhDs, seem to have dropped significantly this year, and I don't see a strong rebound in the next few years. Already highly competitive, those jobs will only become more so.
Kevin Whiteacre Ph.D.: I think the general advice in #3 holds for them especially. It is also important to distinguish not being able to find a job from not being able to find some imaginary perfect job that fits some rigidly held ideal. Flexibility is key. This means openness to opportunities, to moving, to doing things not originally in your plans. Personally, if I got to do it over again, I would go into the Peace Corps after graduating. Grad school should be a distant plan B, unless you feel really, really called to that specific discipline. I used to hang a quote from poet Rodney Jones in the office for graduate student research assistants: "You better love poetry, because it won't love you back." Get experience and have experiences.
Kevin Whiteacre Ph.D.: -Be open to serendipity. Many students/graduates have very specific job or career plans/goals, and if the exact right opportunity (as they see it) does not present itself, they can find themselves in a holding pattern, waiting for their imagined opportunity, continuing on in their warehouse job until their exact vision comes to them. Meanwhile, the real opportunities staring them in the face just pass them by. View every opportunity as a chance for a short-term adventure to learn new things and garner new experiences, rather than as some permanent commitment to this identity or that field.
-Be a lifelong learner. It sounds cliche, but it is so important for your professional development to keep finding opportunities to learn and grow in your field. Too many in criminal justice seem to start looking for additional part-time work, or over-time, as soon as they find their full-time job. Police are notorious for this. Instead, use that time to learn and grow professionally. Focus on long-term goals rather than the short-term. Find ways to secure small certifications and learn specific skillsets. Maybe take a class in Microsoft Office and become really proficient at it. A lot of college students tend to have more of a consumer relationship to technology, but they need to really develop and grow their skills and experience with these things. The disruption of COVID which forced everyone to go virtual exposed that very real problem. Look at job posts for the sorts of positions that interest you-not just what you are qualified for now, but the next level jobs-and see what skills they prioritize. Then find ways to learn them and, more importantly, demonstrate proficiency at them.
-This final point bears repeating. Find ways to demonstrate proficiencies. Way too many resumes simply claim proficiencies or skills without providing any solid evidence of actual outcomes resulting from the claimed skills. Even if you have a part-time job with limited authority, find ways to produce outcomes that are measurable and that produce value for your employer. Document it on your resume. That is what organizations are looking for, and it is in short supply.
Eastern Florida State College
Public Safety Institute, Criminal Justice Technology
Tonia Graham: The biggest trends we will see in the job market given the pandemic is people will be asked to perform a wider variety of complex tasks now. Communications skills, tech savvy, remote working, and constant learning will be increasingly required for jobs in all fields.
Tonia Graham: I honestly never recommend a gap year. I feel that once you are in school, you should push forward and get it done! However, if a graduate needed to take a gap year, I would recommend they continue their education and keep up with skills that are recommended or affiliated with their degree or what they are trying to pursue. For Criminal Justice, I would recommend a CPR class (keeping their certification updated), outside firearms classes, and maybe an exercise routine or class to keep up with their physical strengths and abilities. I would recommend volunteering! Volunteering is excellent and will aid the student.
Tonia Graham: The advice I would give a graduate as they begin their career is NEVER stop educating yourself and learning. Education and knowledge is something that can never be taken away and can only benefit them in their future. I would tell them to be open-minded and NOT give up too easily. New labor market entrants are likely to experience a larger wage drop than existing, more experienced workers. Everyone needs to start somewhere and just because it may not be exactly what they are or were expecting, keep at it!
Dr. Andrew Karmen Ph.D.: I fear there will be severe budget cutbacks, resulting in layoffs and hiring freezes in the public sector.
That will make it difficult for Criminology majors to get hired by agencies of the criminal justice system.
Dr. Andrew Karmen Ph.D.: I would avoid a gap year if possible. The pandemic is showing all of us how difficult it is for students to stay focused on coursework when it is delivered online. I think it will be even more difficult to return to college coursework after a gap year without the daily routine of taking courses and studying. Some college is better than no college at all, but a college degree makes a grad more marketable than someone who has not completed a degree.
Dr. Andrew Karmen Ph.D.: Given the grim prospects of a very slow recovery of the job market, I would recommend that she or he take any full-time job with benefits that they are offered. I would avoid any "gig economy", "freelance", or "independent contractor" opportunities that offer absolutely no job security or benefits.
Karen Lahm Ph.D.: The coronavirus has impacted our internships the most, as many of our agencies are not accepting students right now. Without internships, our students are missing that critical real-world experience that makes them attractive to employers. Many of our students, when they enter the workforce, work closely with people, especially through policing, probation, parole, and corrections. I think Covid will have a lasting impact on these agencies and their protocols for handling a pandemic. Many of these jobs rely on face-to-face contact. Technology and access to technology is key when meetings cannot be in person. There will also be a lasting impact on correctional facilities for sure. What happens in jails and prisons not only affects inmates, but the folks working there as well. They have families to return to and want to be safe and healthy as well.
Karen Lahm Ph.D.: Entering the CJS workforce, students need to be able to communicate effectively, in both oral and written communication. Some jobs require grant writing and extensive report writing. Yet, other jobs require solid oral communication skills to deescalate and handle very dangerous situations on a daily basis (especially in corrections and policing). I always tell our policing students that they will have to testify in court. You must be confident and articulate. Moreover, most folks in corrections don't carry weapons. So, they have to be able to talk to people. Our students have to be able to talk "with" and relate to the citizenry. It is also important for students to have a good mix of both practical and academic skills in the CJ field. I think we will see more psychological assessment in academies and much more training on de-escalation techniques. I think we will also see more multicultural and diversity training. We want our students to see all sides of a situation; even if they don't agree with it or like it, they must be empathetic and understand that not everyone shares their same world view.
Karen Lahm Ph.D.: What makes students attractive on resumes is actual real-world experience. I often have folks tell me, "We separate our applicants for jobs into two piles: 1) those with experience and 2) those without experience." We stress internships and volunteering for all of our students. Students need to make connections with agencies and people early in their career. Knowing a foreign language is also very attractive to employers, as are computer skills.