Career Planning: Part III

I had a successful meeting with the academic planner at the Okanagan College a couple of weeks back. There was good news and bad news though. The bad news was that none of the courses I took are eligible for transfer to the Okanagan College (lame). The good news is that I don’t actually need to go back to school to apply at the RCMP or other police forces.

I have a new plan of action as a result of this information:

  1. Increase physical fitness to pass the PARE test
  2. Study for the entrance exam
  3. Attend the recruiter meetings for RCMP
  4. Do the practice exams
  5. Do the practice PARE tests
  6. Apply at RCMP

The time scale for this is to apply by no later than next year. Ideally, I would like to start as soon as possible but I know that I need a great deal of physical training in order to prepare for this.

The academic advisor recommended that I get accepted to the police force first then use opportunities with the force to go back to school to upgrade. I think it is a brilliant idea. I still want to take criminology studies and there’s opportunities to take courses online through Thompson River University.

So, I am going “back to school” right away but it’s a school of my own curriculum. I have a study guide for the written exam and I might be hiring a personal trainer for the PARE exam. I will have to weigh that out as a trainer is costly. For the most part, I know what I need to do and I have friends who have offered to help me train (bonus for them because they get to train too). I am currently doing my own 12 week plan for increasing my fitness level.

I have not ruled out taking a few courses up at UBC-O though. I am currently enrolled as an “unclassified student”, which means that I can register for regular classes after all the current undergrads have registered for theirs. I am looking at taking some sociology and psychology courses that fit in with criminology studies. If I have not made any significant advancements in applying to the RCMP, then I will take one or two classes from UBC-O and just juggle my work schedule around them.

I have to say thank you to everyone who has been supportive of my plans to return to school and apply at the RCMP. For some, it was a surprise that I would be making this dramatic of a career change and I understand that. Those of you who have known me the longest weren’t all that surprised more like, about time!

I feel good about my future plans and to be honest, I like having a plan. For the last few years, I haven’t had any long term plans about my life and working career. I had some financial plans which I have managed to complete. The only thing that I feel a little apprehensive about is my age. While I know that thirty five is not that old, I still feel like I am a little late coming to the game. I had never planned on making a career out of working in the tech or gaming industry, I don’t have a passion for it.

My goals in life are not based around making money, buying a house, or getting married. I have always been driven by creativity, learning, and discovery. Jobs that offer those are few and far between. Working in law enforcement isn’t about catching criminals, it’s about upholding the laws of the nation I live in. There’s a deeper root to the job than making money and that’s what is appealing to me. I only wish I could start tomorrow.

Academic Planning

I made some progress this past week by calling up the academic advisers at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan and the Okanagan College to set up appointments with both institutions to chat about returning to school.

I have been running through some ideas of what I would like to pursue and I keep coming back to a possible future in law enforcement. There’s a Criminal and Social Justice diploma program with the Okanagan College that looks promising. It would open up the way for further education at larger institutions like SFU or BCIT for further police studies in criminology. However, I would like to meet up with the advisers at UBC-O to see if there’s a similar program with them.

I suppose, if you don’t know me all that well, the idea of me being interested in criminology and law enforcement seems like it’s coming out of left field.The thing is, I have always been interested in it since I was in high school when I was taking law. Even when I look back at the courses I picked in my first few years of university (sociology, psychology, history, anthropology) I could already see a pattern forming. If I had not been on the path towards teaching and a degree in history, I might have switched to criminology sooner.

Ten years later, I keep coming to law enforcement and a possible career path. It’s the one that I am most attracted to at this point but before I make any commitments, I am going to be having these meetings with the academic advisers and I have a seminar with the RCMP recruiter in April to look at what I might need to pursue a career with them. Needless to say, I finally have a goal in mind that I am excited about and one that won’t require too much in the way of further education or financial investment.

Had I gone down the path of getting my teaching degree, I would need at least two years of catch up courses at the college and then another eighteen months in the teaching certification course. All and all it could end up costing me another twenty thousand or more. Where as the social justice and criminology diploma would only cost maybe ten thousand and there is the option to go either right into law enforcement or if I wanted to specialize into specifics, I can apply at BCIT or SFU.

I am not limited to RCMP once I have the education. I can apply at VPD or other government agencies involved in law enforcement including bylaw, security, or even private investigation. All of which hold interest to me. I don’t want to rush my interests though. I want to give myself time to absorb the information and find out what I have a natural aptitude for.

I have ordered a copy of the latest edition of The Oxford Handbook of Criminology to give myself food for thought and find out if I truly am interested in criminology before I make any more investments of my money and time. Unlike when I went to university the last time, I want to make sure I know exactly what I am doing this time so that I don’t waste anyone’s time or money. So far, I have only invested $65 into this venture with the purchase of the textbook.

On the upside to all of this, my degree in history will be beneficial to a career in law enforcement. At the very least, I can show that I have what it takes to finish something that I started and to find new applications for the knowledge that I have gained. I know that this time, no matter what I choose to return to school for, I will be a much better student and likely more driven than I was when I was in my twenties. I am even willing to pick up more student debt in order to make this happen if it means that I can start as early at January 2019.

~Clara D. Munro

Future Career Pathways

While traveling in Hawaii this January, I met a couple who are retired and spend their time traveling around the United States. When I explained to them that I am a dual citizen of both Canada and the United States, they told me that I have the best of both worlds. It’s true, I feel privileged to be able to claim citizenship to two of the most well known democracies around the world.

With that privilege, there comes responsibilities though. Not only do I have to keep up to date with current politics and affairs in the city, province, and nation that I live in but also the nation in which I don’t. If you think keep up to date with politics in your own country is hard, try keeping up to date with two. Being an active member of the democratic process is difficult in an age with so much misinformation spreading through the internet like a virus. You can’t trust information from just one news source, you have to keep looking at different ones to get some resemblance of the full picture.

As a student of history, I know that eventually the truth will come out but that certainly doesn’t help in the moment when decisions and opinions are being made in the now. As much as I would like to be able to see the whole picture right away, I have to make my own best guesses as to which horse to hitch my cart to in any political race. When I was filling my paperwork to take possession of my US citizenship, I was asked to pick my political party right there. I honestly didn’t know much about which party supported what when I did, so I picked my mother’s party, the Democrats. From what I knew from my observations of Republicans in the early 2000s, I figured that Democrats were the closest to Canadian Liberals as I could get but in reality, what a liberal is to Americans is very different than what it is to a Canadian.

Last week, I had an enlightening discussion with a Bostonian. Hearing his points of view and politics in the United States and finding out what a liberal is to him, got me thinking about how much of my own political views are influenced by Canadian thinking. There was a point in the conversation when he asked if I felt so passionate about history, sociology, and politics, why I didn’t go on to study it further. My answer was simple, money. Thinking back on it now, my real reason was I ran out of stream for the university, I just wanted out. I needed to live in the real world for a while and grow up a bit.

After that conversation, I started thinking more about what my passions are and what kind of a future they can give me. With music, I am enjoying challenging myself on a daily basis to get better at the guitar. For me, music will always be the slow burn in the background of my life but not my focus. In regards to writing, I think that I will continue to write in my blogs about subjects that I am interested in and I am passionate about. I don’t think it will be a career for me but more of an ongoing project. Then there is my certification as a yoga instructor. There’s a game new yoga teachers have to play in order to find teaching opportunities that I am just not willing to play anymore. I will always have my certification to teach yoga, no one can take that from me. At this point, I am using it to continue my own yoga path but as far as going out of my way to teach more, I will put that on hold. I believe that I have gotten a world of value out of my teaching certification that was as valuable as my history degree, if not maybe more so.

This brings me back to my degree in history and what can I do with it. I have been tossing around ways to build on my degree but after hours of countless deliberations, I am brought back to one simple revelation: I need to focus point of direction. Getting the degree was the easy part, figuring out what to do with it was hard part. Ever since I finished up my degree in 2008, I have been waffling for a direction and how to use the degree appropriately.

I have been looking at changing careers for a long time now. I don’t want to just run out and get more education if I don’t know what I want to do though. I have been contemplating what to do next. My first instinct was to finish my education degree but now I am thinking that career might not be best suited to me. I am tossing around a few other ideas but I don’t want to share them yet as I have a feeling people may try to talk me out of them. The last thing that I want is someone trying to influence me before I have come to my own opinion on the matter.

What I do know is that I will likely need to upgrade my degree somewhat, it’s just a matter of deciding on how I want to do that. My first step is upgrading some of my adult basic education in English and Math. After that, I will need to bring up my university GPA with ten credits, which is a full semester of courses from 400 level classes. After I bring up the GPA, I may consider applying at other Universities outside Canada. If I can be the good student I know that I can be, I may be able to achieve bursaries to cut down on further debt.

Figuring out a plan of action at this point seems to be the next logical step. I have some ideas of how to move forward but I don’t want to do so until I figured out the next career path. I have some seminars that I am going to attend to learn more about prospective careers and I am going to go up to the university to get my alumni card and talk with an educational counselor there about what do next as far as how to expand on my degree.

~Clara D. Munro