In a week some of the country’s college and university students will already be on Spring Break, (while others may be waiting until late March or even the first week of April). If you are a student awaiting a week off from classes, hopefully you won’t have too many assignments to work on. Whether you’re going away down south or staying in town, you definitely should take some time to recharge your batteries. You can also take advantage of a week with no classes by taking a little time to mentally and/or experientially prepare for life after graduation.
Here are some ideas on how to spend part of your Spring Break to help pave the way to careers in various criminal justice fields.
Alternative Spring Break
Numerous colleges and universities offer Alternative Spring Break programs, either as a trip to a new destination or locally. For example, the University of Denver offers its law students the opportunity to travel to places like Window Rock, Arizona and El Paso, Texas to provide free legal services to communities in need; or this year, Rice University is offering an educational and community service opportunity, “Behind Bars: Exploring Criminal Justice,” in Austin, Texas.
It’s probably too late to register for an Alternative Spring Break program for this year, but you can find out if your school will be offering a similar program next year. You can also create your own Alternative Spring Break and start volunteering somewhere related to your criminal justice career goals, such as for organizations that provide outreach to youth-at-risk, for courthouse assistance programs, as a volunteer fire fighter or search and rescuer, for a recreational program delivered to incarcerated individuals, for a police department, and more.
Get in touch with a criminal justice professional in your community that is in a field that you would like to pursue, from a forensic scientist or a game warden to a paralegal or a cyber security expert. Ask them if you can job shadow them during Spring Break, or meet them for a coffee on their day off so you can pick their brain.
Read a Book
Immerse yourself in the life of a successful criminal justice professional by reading their biography or autobiography. (This can be done whether you’re lying on the beach in Cuba or in a café back home). Examples include, Bad Luck Cadet & Bad Luck Officer by Detective Suzie Ivy, Priceless by Robert K. Wittman (who founded the FBI’s Art Crime Team), My Beloved World by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Sing Sing State Prison or award-winning Ruins of a Society and the Honorable by Al Bermudez Pereira, a retired corrections officer.
If you’re staying in town during Spring Break, find out if there are any places you can visit that reflect your career goals. This might be attending local courtroom proceedings that are open to the public. Alternatively there might be a forensics exhibit at a nearby science museum, CSI: The Experience may be in town, or there may be a nearby police museum you can visit.
Research Future Employers
Whether you’re on vacation or at home, you can devote 30 minutes a day to researching future employers. Start by doing online searches specific jobs in your geographic area. Look at the type of employers that are hiring for these positions. You can start sending out cold calls or e-mails to similar employers in your area (as well as those that are hiring), letting them know you are close to graduation and asking them what would make you an ideal candidate. You might ask if you can set up an internship or start looking into how you can enhance your skills and experiences to exceed their demands.