What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Discuss the educational and physical requirements, testing process and background phase involved in the hiring process. Includes the experiences and advice of current and past applicants. All agency application related questions belong here.
Torontonian17
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What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Torontonian17 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:52 pm

Hello!

I stumbled upon this forum a while ago while searching up cop related things for information.

I've lurked around the forums for a bit to kind of get an idea of what police agencies are looking for in their officers. I knew it was hard to become a police officer, but now I am having a little more doubts. Don't get me wrong, I love the law and helping people with a passion, which is the main reason why I want to get into policing. However, I thought I would ask you guys for what I could do better in my specific case. Any help I could get would be appreciated.

A little background information:
I am 17, turning 18 in a few days, so I'm still in high school. (I'll ask for more post-secondary help later.) I am female and a lesbian, so a minority twice over. (Again, don't get me wrong, I don't expect this to single-handedly get me the job.) One of the main goals for myself as a police officer, is to help any LGBT Torontonians, as they are skeptical of anyone, especially during their darkest times, and especially the police. But anyway. I take quite a lot of initiatives with extra curriculars, leading the Gay-Straight Alliance, a kind of charity group, among other things. But I doubt they care about that.

Onto current achievements:
-I've worked with the TPS under the YIPI program.
-I am currently volunteering with Sunnybrook for a total of 145 hours (at this point, 200 by the end of the school year.)
-I currently have a job working as a caretaker (chalk this one up to life experience, folks.)

Yeah, it's not much, but hey, I'm only 18.

Plans:
-I plan to do co-op with the TPS next semester, I'll be filling in all my paperwork next month.
-Volunteering with the TPS as an auxiliary officer
-Volunteering with the TPS for their victim services as a councillor
-Volunteering with the LGBTQ youth line within Toronto
-Some kind of postsecondary degree (?)

The post secondary degree is a specific question I would like all of your opinions on. I know the police foundations program that is offered isn't... quite worth it, so I was looking into Criminal Justice at Ryerson. When I was picking a degree, I had the question in mind of what would make me a better police officer and what would help me serve the general public better. Eventually, I decided Criminal Justice was the best choice because not only does Ryerson find you all kinds of placements, the actual program delves into things like psychology and criminology, which helps give you a better understanding of criminals, not only to apprehend them, but to help them as well. I was thinking of doubling this with a minor in law, just because I love it.

However, I heard a lot of folks on this forum say that anything law enforcement related is typically not recommended, as you learn everything on the job anyway. The thing is, the only thing I really have a passion for is law, and I couldn't imagine learning anything else, give or take a few things. Plus I feel that taking such a degree not only could help me in becoming a better police officer through my skills, but through perspective as well. If I viewed everything pessimistically, and everyone as guilty, not that I would, I feel it would be doing a great disservice. I've also heard university degrees get you promoted with a greater efficiency than college degrees. However, a part of me really does hate the academics, and I wouldn't mind going off to college to learn some kind of construction, or engineering. Something hands on and where you can build/repair things. The problem with this is that I would be 20 around the time I graduate, and it would leave me less time to get life experience and to complete all my plans. I've heard the argument that I should have a degree I could fall back on, but I feel a criminal justice degree could be used elsewhere as well.

I know this is all a really long read, and I'd like to thank you guys for sharing your knowledge to help me on my way :D

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Whistler22 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 1:52 am

The people who might say that "anything law enforcement related is typically not recommended" are usually talking about Police Foundations type college programs. Not criminology/criminal justice. Criminology is a social sciences program that combines aspects of law, sociology, and psychology... it is not a "law enforcement" program at all. Police Foundation diplomas will teach you how to fill out a notebook, handcuff somebody, write accident reports, etc. Criminology programs will teach you about theories on the root causes of crime, psychological and social factors, crime prevention, etc. Will a degree in crim help you more than say, law, history, mathematics, or women's studies? Maybe, maybe not. Take the program that interests you and that you will do well in.

The reason people say what they do about Police Foundations is because:

1. If you get hired, police college will teach you the hands on stuff you need to know for the job.

2. Graduating with a PF diploma will benefit you in two career paths: Police/other Law Enforcement, or Security Guard type work. So if you don't get your police job the skills you learn in PF only really benefit you in security type work which is relatively low paying (and which you would be able to get with a pulse and a high school diploma anyway).

Some people think that police foundations programs are "required" to get into policing/LE, or will guarantee you get hired. PF programs are neither. That doesn't mean they are useless, or that it will hurt you, but as many will tell you it is definitely not required, and if you are a good candidate it won't give you any advantages over any other post secondary program.

Criminal Justice/Criminology is a different story. Mainly because it is not a "hands on" type program which is aiming you to only a police career. In fact, it is probably aiming you more towards a career somewhere else in the 9-5 justice system (law school, parole/probation, social work, etc). University degrees by nature are a lot broader and less specific than college diplomas. Not to say they are better or worse, but you come away with a much different experience.

So, if you decide not to apply to the police or don't get hired you have plenty of options with that degree anyway. You might take it and decide you want to be a crown prosecutor and end up in law school, who knows. Also, take advantage of those placements, because they will most likely be what gets you a well paying job right out the door (if you don't get into policing right away). Placements and summer student programs are the best way to open doors while you are still in school.

As for promotions down the road, I can't really answer that, but I suspect if that is what you want that you would be better off in some sort of management/program manager type program... once people get a white shirt and a Blackberry to play with, their job is all numbers, pie charts, and politics anyway, doesn't matter if they are working for the police, another govt agency, or IBM ;) .

(don't take the last paragraph too seriously ;) )

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby facetha » Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:34 am

Stay out of trouble (Traffic tickets) thats where I totally screwed myself over... :((

Also, don't give up if it doesn't work the first few times, My friend is at OPC now for a GTA Police service, his formal attempt to enter policing in Ontario was in, get this, 2000! 13 years!

So, it ain't over till its over :D

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Torontonian17 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:26 am

Whistler22 wrote:The people who might say that "anything law enforcement related is typically not recommended" are usually talking about Police Foundations type college programs. Not criminology/criminal justice. Criminology is a social sciences program that combines aspects of law, sociology, and psychology... it is not a "law enforcement" program at all. Police Foundation diplomas will teach you how to fill out a notebook, handcuff somebody, write accident reports, etc. Criminology programs will teach you about theories on the root causes of crime, psychological and social factors, crime prevention, etc. Will a degree in crim help you more than say, law, history, mathematics, or women's studies? Maybe, maybe not. Take the program that interests you and that you will do well in.

The reason people say what they do about Police Foundations is because:

1. If you get hired, police college will teach you the hands on stuff you need to know for the job.

2. Graduating with a PF diploma will benefit you in two career paths: Police/other Law Enforcement, or Security Guard type work. So if you don't get your police job the skills you learn in PF only really benefit you in security type work which is relatively low paying (and which you would be able to get with a pulse and a high school diploma anyway).

Some people think that police foundations programs are "required" to get into policing/LE, or will guarantee you get hired. PF programs are neither. That doesn't mean they are useless, or that it will hurt you, but as many will tell you it is definitely not required, and if you are a good candidate it won't give you any advantages over any other post secondary program.

Criminal Justice/Criminology is a different story. Mainly because it is not a "hands on" type program which is aiming you to only a police career. In fact, it is probably aiming you more towards a career somewhere else in the 9-5 justice system (law school, parole/probation, social work, etc). University degrees by nature are a lot broader and less specific than college diplomas. Not to say they are better or worse, but you come away with a much different experience.

So, if you decide not to apply to the police or don't get hired you have plenty of options with that degree anyway. You might take it and decide you want to be a crown prosecutor and end up in law school, who knows. Also, take advantage of those placements, because they will most likely be what gets you a well paying job right out the door (if you don't get into policing right away). Placements and summer student programs are the best way to open doors while you are still in school.

As for promotions down the road, I can't really answer that, but I suspect if that is what you want that you would be better off in some sort of management/program manager type program... once people get a white shirt and a Blackberry to play with, their job is all numbers, pie charts, and politics anyway, doesn't matter if they are working for the police, another govt agency, or IBM ;) .

(don't take the last paragraph too seriously ;) )


Thanks for all the help, If I don't get into policing my first few tries I'll be glad to know I can apply the degree somewhere else :) I was actually looking into Guelph-Humber that offers the same thing but with a Police Foundations degree, though I wasn't thinking of going there anyway because its too far...

As for becoming a lawyer, I sincerely doubt that would happen because sitting at a desk for 12 hours of the day researching cases and doing paperwork (much more so than an officer) doesn't quite seem appealing to me. Plus I've also heard law school is expensive. Hey, I love a good debate here and there, but for a living? Maybe one day.

facetha wrote:Stay out of trouble (Traffic tickets) thats where I totally screwed myself over... :((

Also, don't give up if it doesn't work the first few times, My friend is at OPC now for a GTA Police service, his formal attempt to enter policing in Ontario was in, get this, 2000! 13 years!

So, it ain't over till its over :D


Oh man, 13 years? I couldn't imagine waiting that long. The plan is to do so much volunteer and pro bono work for them, I show them how much I want it :D . Hopefully it won't take me as long as your friend, but you never know!

Also, I'll be completely honest in saying that neither of my parents own a car, so I don't actually drive. I have my G1 so far and planning to get my G2 soon through lessons, but no tickets for me.

Thanks for all the replies!

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby darwin » Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:33 am

It looks like you are doing everything right but as others have said get an education that you can fall back on.

If you like helping people check out social work related programs. If you are really interested in pursuing something in public safety/security I know Humber has a criminal justice degree that offers a coop term. A few of the guys and gals at my old gig did that program and the coop placement really helped them find gigs in the corrections field (Parole, probation,half way house, CO/CX). That can open doors for CSC, CBSA, etc.

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Torontonian17 » Fri Oct 11, 2013 6:27 pm

darwin wrote:It looks like you are doing everything right but as others have said get an education that you can fall back on.

If you like helping people check out social work related programs. If you are really interested in pursuing something in public safety/security I know Humber has a criminal justice degree that offers a coop term. A few of the guys and gals at my old gig did that program and the coop placement really helped them find gigs in the corrections field (Parole, probation,half way house, CO/CX). That can open doors for CSC, CBSA, etc.


I was actually thinking of using the criminal justice degree as a back up plan for all the positions above that you mentioned (or perhaps others.) Push comes to shove, my caretaking job does offer a full time position once you are out of school, at good pay and benefits. Only temporary of course.

The criminal justice degree at Humber is actually something I looked at, it also comes with, ironically enough, a police foundations degree. The thing is, Ryerson also offers placements, (though I'm not sure to what degree) and is significantly closer, which is the main reason I picked it over Humber. I know however, that Humber offers co op placements specifically within the TPS and a lot of other related agencies, and I'm not sure Ryerson does. It also forces you to complete I think it was 200 hours of volunteering at your placement to actually get your BA. Still, Ryerson I feel is still the better choice because although Humber can get you placements, Ryerson is smack dab in the middle of downtown, with closer volunteering opportunities. I have quite a bit of connection to the TPS already and will continue to get more, and my current experiences and positions makes me a very competitive applicant for other opportunities as well, so I'm not quite worried about that.

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby brihard » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:59 pm

Overall it sounds like you're well ahead of the game in terms of lining yourself up for the education and experiences that will be necessary to be attractive to a force in a few years. You're young yet, but that's no fault of yours. There's absolutely nothing wrong in having the aspirations and working towards them, nor is there fault to be found in having some confidence in what you're pursuing.

Some gratuitous advice: Branch out a bit in terms of volunteering/education/interests. A very directed focus on policing is not necessary. I'm not saying to avoid criminology- my crim degree didn't hinder me in getting a badge - but make use of and have fun with your electives and your free time. You'll find yourself all too busy before long, and setting yourself up for diversity in your pursuits will help keep you balanced, and will expose you to interesting people outside of the field you're working towards.

Stay out of shit, be genuinely good to people, get yourself in shape (I don't mean to the standards publicized by forces for testing- but in actual good physical condition), and keep your head on straight and you'll do fine. Good luck!
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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Torontonian17 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:28 pm

brihard wrote:Overall it sounds like you're well ahead of the game in terms of lining yourself up for the education and experiences that will be necessary to be attractive to a force in a few years. You're young yet, but that's no fault of yours. There's absolutely nothing wrong in having the aspirations and working towards them, nor is there fault to be found in having some confidence in what you're pursuing.

Some gratuitous advice: Branch out a bit in terms of volunteering/education/interests. A very directed focus on policing is not necessary. I'm not saying to avoid criminology- my crim degree didn't hinder me in getting a badge - but make use of and have fun with your electives and your free time. You'll find yourself all too busy before long, and setting yourself up for diversity in your pursuits will help keep you balanced, and will expose you to interesting people outside of the field you're working towards.

Stay out of shit, be genuinely good to people, get yourself in shape (I don't mean to the standards publicized by forces for testing- but in actual good physical condition), and keep your head on straight and you'll do fine. Good luck!


Glad to hear hear I have a real chance of having a career in policing.

However, I'd have to disagree with branching out my interests. I admit I would heavily, heavily prefer going to college getting a hands-on degree (mechanic, electrician, what have you), but I feel taking crim. justice at Ryerson would be more relevant. It has bits and pieces of crim, which would give you a different perspective than taking something else. If you have an idea of why people are criminals, why people are being difficult, etc, it might totally change the way you interact with them, and lead to a better result. This is even evident taking a simple law course in school. I was introduced to very gray areas in the law, as well as gray situations as I'm sure officers deal with, and I started to form opinions I didn't even know I had. Some were extremely negative; I will admit that I would have no sympathy for women who dressed a certain way and were raped. However, upon listening to other people's opinions, and arguments, I've since then changed my opinion, leading me to be an effective officer in the future. (and realizing how wrong I was in the past.) I feel it wouldn't only teach me about criminals; I feel it would also teach me about ethics and make me become a better person. I would like to say I am already, but there is always room for improvement. Letting life teach you (and I understand why there is a requirement for so much life experience) is important, and I guess what I'm trying to say it would make me a better person, and therefore, a better officer.

Whew, that's my rant. I don't mean to belittle anyone's opinion though, if you disagree with what I'm saying and feel you get life experience, please, let me know! Because I'm young and don't have *that* life experience of my own, I realize I may be talking out of my ass. Picking post-secondary is coming up soon!

As for getting in shape, I think that would actually be the hardest thing, heh. I'm trying to do it right now, but my motivation to keep going on is pretty low for the time being. After finishing 5K (and dying right after) my motivation was pretty shot. I'm sure I'll recover, but I'll admit that's the hardest part. I'll look over the vitality section :D

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby goalieman » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:51 pm

Your opinion of people will change when you get on the job. It's a fact.

Volunteering anywhere is never a bad thing, but in the interest of being a better applicant I second branching out of your volunteer work. As an example I volunteered for the St. John ambulance brigade and provided first aid at events and those experiences assisted me greatly in my interview stage.

I was accepted into the RCMP as a teenager so I know exactly how your feeling. At the end of the day, do what makes you happy and provides the life experiences you seek

Good luck

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby PHB » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:17 pm

If I were to do it again I would have taken a trade or finished by BA before getting into the force. This would have allowed for a backup plan if something were to happen if I was hurt or anything like that. I always tell people to stay away from policing specific programs. First of they teach you what you will be taught at your academy anyway. Second of all if your hurt or not suitable for a policing job it doesn't leave many other options than a security or a feeder agency.
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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Torontonian17 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:53 pm

It's true that if I get physically injured that I won't be able to do anything with a criminal justice degree, but if I do get permanently injured, I think it would take me a while to find a job I enjoy anyway; I'm a hands on person.

As for volunteering experience, I'm actually looking for jobs that have me interacting with a wide variety of people. I'm currently working with my school's "best buddies" program that allows me to pair up with a developmentally delayed person. I volunteered in a hospital dealing with residents, injured people, and people just plain down on their luck. The other two volunteering positions I have planned will help me get a better idea of LGBT people within the city, and those going through domestic abuse.

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby recceguy » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:25 pm

Taking a program in school and using it as a median to maybe change your opinion on something policing related is a waste of money. I don't feel any sympathy for a lot of people I deal with on a day to day basis, but I was called there for a reason and remain professional regardless of the situation.

As my colleague stated, you are one blown knee or stupid decision away from never becoming a police officer and are now stuck with a degree that is relatively useless in helping you find meaningful employment. If I were still in high school and know what I know now.......I'd be looking into a business degree. Police services couldn't care less what your degree is in, they just want to see a commitment to continuing education in some facet.
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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby Torontonian17 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:06 pm

recceguy wrote:Taking a program in school and using it as a median to maybe change your opinion on something policing related is a waste of money. I don't feel any sympathy for a lot of people I deal with on a day to day basis, but I was called there for a reason and remain professional regardless of the situation.

As my colleague stated, you are one blown knee or stupid decision away from never becoming a police officer and are now stuck with a degree that is relatively useless in helping you find meaningful employment. If I were still in high school and know what I know now.......I'd be looking into a business degree. Police services couldn't care less what your degree is in, they just want to see a commitment to continuing education in some facet.


Well, you've certainly got me thinking about secondary degrees. Thing is, if anything, I'd go to college, learn something really hands on. But if something does happen, the degree is still useless as I would have trouble finding work if I did blow a knee; I really enjoy hands on careers. Another problem is that it would give me extremely less time to accumulate life experience. An extra 2 years will go a long way, I feel.

For the TPS- do they value university degrees more than college ones? I really don't want the decision of my education to come back later on in life and wreak havoc. Better to have it but not need it rather than need it and not have it.

On another note, I personally think investing money to maybe change your opinion is worth it. What is the greatest life lesson if not ethics and morals? Besides, the program goes into other things as well, ie how the criminal justice system works, youth crime, etc. It still teachers you some things. Yes, you could learn it all on the job, however, that I won't argue. But who knows? You might learn something different, or apply it differently than others.

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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby recceguy » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:26 pm

I have no idea what tps likes more...just take something that interests you and also gives you a fall back plan.

There's no magic formula to getting hired.
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Re: What exactly can I do to build myself/resume?

Postby PHB » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:49 pm

recceguy wrote:I have no idea what tps likes more...just take something that interests you and also gives you a fall back plan.

There's no magic formula to getting hired.


This is exactly it. There is no magic pill that you can take that will guarantee a hire onto a policing agency. If you look at the backgrounds of the last class of TPS recruits they will all be different. Some will volunteer some wont, some will be in the military and some could be textile workers. Biggest thing is plan for the best and prepare if it doesn't work out. Always have a backup.
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