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Criminal Justice Careers Night

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On March 23rd, the Criminal Justice Career night, hosted by Dr. Gwen Jordan, was held via Zoom. A panel of four professionals from different careers in the criminal justice system helped show the wide scope of jobs available and provided advice on getting into the field. Our first speaker was the current Director of Public Safety at Bay Path, John Stankiewicz. He shared his background in public safety and discussed the major systemic changes that have taken place since he graduated from the New Jersey Police Academy 35 years ago. After he started in Longmeadow in 1982, he recalled in 1990 when the department hired the first woman police officer in that agency. Although four officers in that department are women currently, this served as a reminder of how male-dominated the police force is. Setting the tone for advice from most of the panelists, Chief Stankiewicz reminded us how important it is to have an honest record and maintain a steady work ethic while trying to find a career as an officer.


Next, Special Agent Julia Cowley spoke of her experience as an FBI agent of 22 years. After working in the behavioral analysis unit, she started working out of Springfield for the Boston division of the FBI in 2014. She emphasized the importance of diversity in the FBI and the necessity of translators for languages and dialects. The push for STEM and cyber professionals was highlighted as well. Special Agent Cowley explained the many different types of jobs available in the FBI in areas we may not expect. When it comes to entering the field, she gave realistic advice on the difficulty of finding an internship but did encourage anyone interested to research through An interesting point that she brought up was how little of a choice new agents have for their first assignment and how this ties into the commitment of working for the agency. Similarly, Agent Cowley’s advice focused on having a strong work ethic, integrity, and perseverance.


Professor Meghan McBride, the director of a local community program, was the next to give her insight on working in the criminal justice system. Professor McBride spoke on her experience growing up in a family with many members working for the legal system. She explained the many different positions she’s had in the system as well, like being a Superior Court probation officer out of Worcester and her first job as a dispatcher. She said she felt like she had done everything before finding the position she currently works in. Speaking again on perseverance, she went further explaining that early jobs in the system can be taxing, having to work night shifts and being on call almost all the time. She also expressed how rewarding the work can be as long as you’re determined. A new point she brought up was the importance of having a clean social media while getting into a position in the criminal justice system.


Our final speaker was Bay Path alumna, Attorney Delmarina Lopez '17. She provided a different perspective on getting into the law field being an attorney and being so early in her career. She really focused on the importance of getting involved on campus and how these activities “trained her” for her professional life. She also reminded us to ask for help wherever possible and how having women mentors really benefited her. Attorney Lopez discussed how competitive law school is and the small number of available scholarships. She also reinforced having a clean social media and going outside of your comfort zone when looking for a career. Most of the speakers brought up that they wouldn’t have imagined working in the position they do, but also how rewarding it is. They provided practical advice as well as inspiring anecdotes about working in the criminal justice system. The contact information for the speakers is available, as well as a recording of the event, through the Sullivan Career and Life Planning Center.

This article is also featured in the April 2021 issue of the Network News Student Magazine.