Date: May 11, 2021
(By Lisa Garrett)
CRJ Student Whitney Walton Hones Skills During Mock Interviews
PENDLETON , SC--- In her final semester at Tri-County Technical College, criminal justice major Whitney Walton stood before eight law enforcement panelists several weeks ago, fielding questions during a mock interview as part of a senior seminar class.
She recognized that the experience, although daunting, was a chance to hone her interviewing skills and prepare for the ‘real’ interviews to come.
Panelists included police officers, victims advocates, a state trooper and a police chief, who asked the same type of questions she would encounter when pursuing a job. Walton was appreciative of the panelists’ follow-up advice and the comments from her instructor Jess McCoy.
What Walton didn’t expect was an on-the-spot job offer from a local sheriff’s department. “The major detailed what he thought my strengths were and told me I was on the right career path, that he saw a real future in law enforcement for me. He said I displayed determination and focus in my responses,” said Walton.
“This is the single most important activity we do each year for our criminal justice students who are close to graduating,” said Dr. Chris McFarlin, department chair for public services at TCTC. “Whitney has been an exceptional student in the program and walked away from her mock interview with a conditional job offer and starting salary. The major was so impressed by her that a job offer was extended. Whitney is only the third student, in all the years we have done this, to receive such an offer on the spot.”
It’s an opportunity to get experience with interviewing so graduates will be more prepared when they are applying for jobs. Standing before a panel of eight law enforcement professionals and answering their questions can be intimidating said McCoy. An added benefit is that the panelists critique the students afterward and give good constructive and candid comments, she said.
Because Walton plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and has been accepted to USC Upstate, she chose to accept another job at the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office as a Class III sheriff deputy - one that will best suit her work and college schedule while being near her home in Piedmont.
She says she eventually wants to work in probation, pardon and parole services and a four-year degree is a requirement.
“I want to make a difference and I believe I can do so by working in corrections/probation, pardon and parole services. I want to help make a change in people’s lives and in society. They deserve a second chance. There is a way for them to reenter the community as law abiding, productive citizens,” she said.
Earlier this year, she asked instructor McCoy to write her a letter of recommendation. “I didn’t hesitate to ask her and she didn’t hesitate to say yes. TCTC instructors are like that - very approachable and helpful. They have worked in the field of law enforcement and bring a wealth of experience to the classroom. They are passionate about their work and classes are very interactive. They want to see students succeed,” said Walton.
“I didn’t hesitate to write a letter of recommendation because Whitney comes to class on time, prepared and she is engaged. She participates in discussions and she voices her opinion,” said McCoy, who joined TCTC as a full-time criminal justice instructor after five and one-half years of law enforcement experience working as an officer. She also is a reserve officer for the Lyman Police Department.
“Whitney is dependable and teachable, which is important in law enforcement because in today’s climate, officers are constantly learning and evolving and must adapt to new laws all of the time,” she said.
“If I was working as a full-time officer, I would want her on my team,” added McCoy.
Walton says McCoy has served as a mentor for her and other students. “She is young, she is easy to relate to and she gives good advice about working in the field of law enforcement.”
“I’ve had people in law enforcement and in higher education who served as mentors for me,” said McCoy, “so I know the importance of mentors. There were people - coaches, teachers - who wanted to see me excel when I was growing up. They saw I had potential and so I make sure my students know that I see potential in them as well.”
About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit tctc.edu.