Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Policeman - A Career Profile in Determination

Have you ever watched CSI?  I know a Crime Scene Investigator personally.  He specializes in retrieving evidence from computers, phones, and video cameras.  The path he took to becoming what I would call a 'Crime Scene Investigator' is pretty interesting.

This guy always struggled with school growing up.  He barely passed Grade 12 and wasn't keen on getting back into school - except he had a dream.  He wanted to be a police officer.  Looking into the admission requirements for the RCMP and several municipal police departments, he was very discouraged to discover that his eyesight automatically disqualified him for admission.

Being a persistent fellow, he didn't let that stop him.  He got a job as a security officer in the hospitality industry and did that for several years hoping it would somehow spring-board him closer to his dream.  During that time he made some friends who had been to college.  They saw his drive and desire to be a cop, and encouraged him to go back to school and study criminology.  He also learned about corrective eye surgery and 'saw' a glimmer of hope (no pun intended)  :-)

Having lived and worked on his own for a while by this time, he had learned to value time and money and realized that going back to school would be an investment in his future.  He did a thorough investigation of schools that offered diplomas in Criminal Justice, found three that he liked and applied to all three.  He was surprised to receive acceptance letters from all three schools despite his high school transcript (Post Secondary institutions tend to be more willing to accept students who've had a bit of life experience - I've seen this across the board, irrespective of school and career type).  Wanting to get the most out of his investment, he decided on a smaller college that had smaller class sizes.  The program at this school focused on Criminal Justice and he didn't have to waste  time and money taking general studies courses.  Also, the program's faculty actually worked in the CJ system - they weren't all academics.

School was still a challenge.  He had to quit the college volleyball team to keep his marks up.  He had to study constantly and had post-it study notes everywhere.  I remember seeing them all over the inside of his car.  All the hard work paid off, though.  In two years he successfully got his diploma, and discovered that he could parlay those course credits into a Criminal Justice degree by taking one more year of school at a partner university.  He took advantage of this (and a scholarship) and graduated with a CJ degree a year later.

A CJ degree didn't solve the eyesight problem, though.  Police departments still wouldn't look at his application.  At a bit of a loss, yet encouraged by his success in school, he decided to continue his education in a different field.  He saw an advert on TV for a local IT school which claimed to have students ready for the industry in 9 months.  The Information Technology sector was booming and IT workers were getting paid a premium at the time.  Curious, he went to the local school, got a tour, submitted an application, and got accepted all in the course of two weeks.

Nine months later, our wanna-be policeman had two significant job offers which completely validated all the time, effort, and money he had been spending on education.  He accepted an opportunity working in Europe and spent a year there working in IT.  While he was there, he travelled - for work and for pleasure - and he loved it.  What he discovered though, was he didn't enjoy all the time spent on a computer in a cubicle.  He is a hands-on, practical type of guy and sitting in front of a computer all day wasn't his dream - even if it paid well.

He moved back to Canada, got work at a local IT firm, and submitted his application to the local police department.  Through a series of administrative blunders, they lost his application.  Fifteen months later after he pestered them for a status update, it was found.  By this time, the local IT firm had been bought, and our prospective policeman had taken his earnings from the buy out, paid off the remainder of his student debt, and got his eyesight corrected with laser surgery.

Accomplishing his dream, a policeman at last, he spent 6 years on the beat in a patrol car, loving every minute of it.  The police force that hired him allows officers to diversify into different fields after 6 years on the beat.  While working the beat was right up his alley, shift work was not and he consequently looked for an opportunity to work regular hours.  Because of his IT experience, he was able to meet and 'talk shop' with guys in the computer crime unit (who worked regular hours).  When a position came up in that department, he applied for it and was accepted.  He loves his job now.  In his current position, he works 4 days week, 10 hour days, and receives state of the art training.  When he retires from the force, he will easily be able to transition to an IT security consultant with his expertise.

This guy didn't give up.  A bunch of things stood in the way of his dream, but he found a way around them.  The challenges, experiences, and opportunities he's had along the way have built his confidence, made him stronger and more diversified, and given him a greater sense of accomplishment.

To read other career profiles check out my Career Path Profiles page here.

1 comment:

  1. Such an encouraging write up for anyone who is struggling with decisions about what to pursue after high school. "Consider the dream that you've had and go after it".