I have $40,000+ in debt, a bachelors degree in criminal justice, an EMT-B license, a basic computer tech certificate, 4 years of customer service experience as a banquet server, a bad driving history, and one misdemeanor - how can I find a better job than being a banquet server? What can I do to be competitive? Should I attend police academy or not? What are my options - what can I do to improve my life?
posted by usersname to Work & Money (49 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A little about me: I'm a single 25 year old 5'8" white male in pretty decent physical shape. I've lived in south-east Michigan my entire life. My main skills are creative. I like to animate, edit, do special effects, film, write, etc. - usually dark comedy stuff. Unfortunately, it's exceptionally tough to get a nice creative job, so I went another route to actually support me while I do the creative stuff on the side. Too bad that's not working out either.
Detailed explanation, leading up to the present: I live in southeast Michigan. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Criminal Justice. For about a year afterward I took a few more classes, and received a CompTIA essentials certificate (Demonstrates competency as a computer technician). However, once I got into the programming classes, I realized it wasn't for me.
I then decided to move on to a more "sure-fire" way to get a better job: an EMT class. According to bls.gov, EMT's & Paramedics are being hired far above the national average. I took the grueling 3-4 month class, and received my national and state licenses in October.
I then began applying to all the EMT places around, but a recent interview I had crushed my hopes of being an EMT - the interviewer said that with my driving record, I wouldn't be hired. My driving history is admittedly poor: about 6 incidents overall, 2 were over 10mph, and I've had 2-3 minor accidents. On the plus side, It's been 3 years since any incident, and I have no points on my license as of right now. I told the interviewer I felt a little bit like a victim of the criminology theory called "labeling theory", like I was labeled for my past and wouldn't be able to get away from it, like a criminal. He then said "well you know, we have hired sexual offenders and felons." - Awesome. So they'll hire them, but not someone with a spotty driving record. I guess I'm a worse hire than a sexual felon.
In addition to the driving history, I have one misdemeanor offense: an M.I.P. (minor in possession). Some detail: it was the holiday season. I was in a frat. Exactly 3 weeks prior to my 21st birthday, a party I was at was busted by the police. I had taken a few sips from a beer and admitted to it. I subsequently left the frat and switched colleges. After the probationary period, it was expunged from the public record, but certain employers can still see it - such as ambulance companies and the police. Don't get me wrong - I realize the driving record and misdemeanor were horrible mistakes. They were wrong. Trust me, I know this all too well.
Now for my present situation: I am a 25-year old part time banquet server ($12 an hour but few hours) living with my dad to save money. I'm taking a Spanish class at the local community college while I sort out this whole employment mess. I have deferred my $40,000+ college loans for at least another year. My plan has been, and at the moment still is, to attend police academy if I'm accepted in next year. It would be about $8,000-15,000 more in college loans, 6 months long, and I couldn't have a job at the same time due to the extreme time constraints.
Here's the problem with that: I spoke with the head of the police academy, and he basically said that would not be competitive. I would certainly not be in the top echelon of candidates. There are others out there with clean public records and military service. I spoke with a career counselor at the community college I would be attending the police academy at, and he recommended I still attend the police academy. He said other career opportunities in the meantime could be things such as: security, probation officer, and corrections officer... although the most likely option would have me finding an internship program and getting some clerical/office job at the end of that. I should add that I'm willing to move, but only if I know I'm getting a job first.
I need an outside perspective. I have applied as an emergency tech at an ER, security guard jobs, Geek Squad at Best Buy, EMT jobs, and soon I'll apply to the rest of the jobs mentioned. I ask you, what do you think? Should I attend police academy? With $40,000+ in debt, a bachelors degree in criminal justice, an EMT-B license, a basic computer tech certificate, 4 years of customer service experience as a server, a bad driving history, and one misdemeanor, how can I find a job? What can I do to be competitive?