Career fair shows job opportunities for criminal justice majors

GVL Archive
Grand Valley student exchanges business cards with a potential employer at a past career fair.

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Grand Valley student exchanges business cards with a potential employer at a past career fair.

Andrew Justus

With public sector employment down and budget issues continuing to hamper all levels of government, many criminal justice students feel their job prospects are slim.

To help students meet potential employers, GVSU’s Career Services organized a career fair geared specifically at criminal justice to benefit students within that major.

“Even though the departments aren’t really hiring a lot… it’s still important to make contacts,” said Matt Ploeg, a GVSU junior.

There was a consensus among students at the event that jobs in the field are dwindling, and very competitive.

“Back home in Leelanau (Mich.), we had 300 qualified applicants for one position,” said Pat Arena, a GVSU senior who works for the Leelanau Sheriff’s Department during the summers. “I’m here to get contacts and learn about the departments around here if I don’t go to law school.”

The Grand Valley Police Department, GVSU Police Academy, Grand Rapids and Wyoming Police Departments, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration tabled at the CJ fair, among other West Michigan agencies.

“I was really looking at the U.S. Marshals and the Amway Protection Services,” Ploeg said, adding that working for Amway would be the most similar to his current job at a private security firm.

Jason Gady, the officer who oversees internship and cadet programs with GRPD, said with all of the turnover in his program he feels like he always has to be looking for students to recruit.

“I always have to come to fairs like this because so many students just don’t know about us,” Gady said.

He said only Kentwood and Kent County offer programs similar to his in the area.

“We want to be an option for GVSU students; we also want exposure to more diverse candidates,” said Sgt. James McGuffee, head of support services for the Wyoming Police Department.

Janean Couch, assistant director of career services and organizer the career fair, said criminal justice students have a broad range of options open to them, and the fair is meant to help students network with potential employers who they may want to explore after their time at GVSU.

“(Students) can ask questions and get valuable face-to-face opportunities that are so important,” Couch said.

[email protected]