MURFREESBORO – For the second consecutive year, law enforcement officials and prospective employees will have an opportunity to meet in a friendly, casual setting.
The 2015 Middle Tennessee Criminal Justice Networking and Information Exchange, created by MTSU criminal justice lecturer Carter F. Smith, is slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 10, at Nashville State Community College, 5248 Hickory Hollow Parkway in Nashville.
A so-called “non-career fair,” the exchange provides opportunities for those seeking jobs in policing, the judiciary, corrections or security to chat with working professionals in those areas.
Smith, who teaches courses on security at MTSU, said the event is not intended as one in which applicants nervously hand over resumes. He said that creates a psychological barrier to building relationships.
“I don’t want that additional factor to enter into students’ minds,” said Smith. “I want them to talk to somebody who did the job this morning.”
The agencies to be represented include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Internal Revenue Service and police departments from Smyrna, Murfreesboro, La Vergne, Mount Juliet, Springfield and Metro Nashville.
Agencies that might not be as obvious to the job seeker include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority and Better Business Bureau.
“(The TVA has its) own security forces,” said Mitzie Forrest-Thompson, a graduate student who is a crime/intelligence analyst and internship coordinator for the La Vergne Police Department. “The average civilian doesn’t even know that. … The students don’t know that because it’s not in the textbooks.”
Forrest-Thompson, who is helping organize the conference, said numerous applicants have been turned down by her agency because of poor grammar and punctuation and because of a lack of social skills.
“We could tell that they were not going to be good socially face-to-face,” Forrest-Thompson said. “Because there are so many students depending on social media these days, they do not have the capabilities to … interact with real human beings.”
Yet the ability to form relationships and partnerships is exactly what makes criminal justice career relationships work both within agencies and across jurisdictions, Smith said.
“Everything now is validation,” said Sgt. Larry Pollard of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. “If we have that face-to-face relationship, it’s easier to get that.”
“It’s not a job fair,” added Smith. “It’s a get-to-know-the-field fair.”
The exchange is sponsored by the MTSU Department of Criminal Justice Administration and the Fraternal Order of Police of Williamson County (Lodge 41). It is free and open to the public and plenty of free parking will be available. Business casual clothing is advised.
WCJK-FM, also known as “Jack FM,” in Nashville will host a remote broadcast from the exchange from 10 a.m. to noon. Listeners may tune in to 96.3 FM or go to www.963jackfm.com.