While searching for her next career move, Ciarra Oduka discovered a job posting for the director of career services position at Brown College of Court Reporting. “I wanted to find out more about court reporting,” Oduka says. “Not a lot of emphasis was placed on court reporting” during her criminal justice education.
A native of Jonesboro, Georgia, she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice studies with a minor in fraud examination from Georgia Southern University. She made the switch after starting her undergraduate career as a biology major.
Following graduation, she continued her studies at the University of West Georgia, where she earned a master’s degree in criminology. Oduka then worked as a court researcher in Kennesaw, Georgia, collecting criminal information for background checks. She felt opportunity at BCCR aligned with her career aspirations and prior experience and education. Her skills and credentials impressed the BCCR staff, and in March 2019 she was hired as the director of career services.
Since starting, Oduka has loved her job. “The administrative team is amazing. We have great instructors who are dedicated to the students, who are willing to work hard,” Oduka says. “I’ve had a great experience so far.” What she loves most about being the director of career services is working with the diverse student body. “I’m learning a lot about adult learners compared to traditional college students,” Oduka says.
In addition to learning about court reporting, she’s also excited to be working in higher education. “My overall goal is to be a professor of criminal justice,” she says. “Starting at a small private college is a good starting point for me.” Her role as director of career services gives her the chance to gain valuable teaching experience. Oduka teaches career success and professional development courses, covering parts of the job search like writing resumes, interviewing skills, networking, and finding a mentor.
Her new position gives her a chance to tackle different kinds of challenges, more than she had in her previous roles. “Job placement and the externship program are my two biggest responsibilities,” Oduka says. She works to place students in externships with court reporting firms, which provide them with valuable experience prior to graduating. She also sends out job opportunities to graduates.
As she continues working at BCCR, Oduka hopes to mold the director of career services role into one that has more personal relationships with students and tailor it to the court reporting profession specifically. “I’d love to have more speakers, talk to students, be more of a resource,” she says. “I want them to start thinking about [finding a job] early on and planning for that transition,” she says.
When it comes to advice for current and prospective students, Oduka emphasizes professionalism and making good first impressions. Professionalism, especially dressing appropriately, “gets you in the door,” Oduka says. “First impressions are what guide you. That’s really how you’re going to be perceived in this profession going forward.” Outside of work, Oduka likes to go on hikes and binge watch TV shows. She plans to go back to school in the future to earn a PhD and pursue her dream of teaching criminal justice courses at the college level.
At Brown College of Court Reporting, knowledgeable instructors and caring professionals like Ciarra can help set you up for a rewarding career in the court reporting field. BCCR offers voice writing and stenography methods on campus and online. To learn more about the best court reporting program for you, contact us today!