Headlines lately have been lashing out on the probation department and the idea of patronage. Commissioner O’Brien has recently been fired after a long battle of the blame game. However, the underlying message here is that our world has become a battle between networking with people and not so much how much knowledge or how smart an individual is, which is troublesome to say the least. Many jobs in the criminal justice field and services are not hiring very often so when a position does open up many applicants will be pushed aside and others moved to the head of the list because their parents donate money, their family is friends with someone that works there and the list of possibilities goes on. Many of my friends are on the state police list and have seen their name go up and down the list very often, many have seen why that is because of parents involvement in the department or some phone calls and extra pushes from family friends, neighbors and teachers. It is hard to see an individual who does not have the same scores, experience and to be quite frankly the drive you have be considerate for a job because they “know someone, who knows someone.” Networking has become the buzzword in our society and especially in this economy any help you can get you take. How has the “ who you know” idea shadowed over what you know. That’s simple because in this economy everyone is fighting for a job and there are many more fighting for the same job you want. Was Commissioner O’Brien wrong in hiring a majority of his family to work in the probation department and other branches of Massachusetts state positions? Yes, is he the first person who is guilty of helping out people he knows and giving them a job over other? No. O’Brien was an extreme case as he was public about his favoritism; however the problem of patronage is evident outside of the probation department.
So how do we address this issue is it a crime to network and use those names and contacts to your advantage? We are a society that uses all forms of communications from word of mouth to texting and video chat. When we meet someone for the first time, their business card becomes that much more important down the road because you never know when you need their help or that extra push to land the job you want. No matter what, what you know and learn in the classroom and through experience will help you succeed in your position however if you know someone that can help you or knows the employer that can guarantee an interview, and your foot in the door.