The Private Eye Goes To School

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With new friends at Edna Brewer Middle School, Oakland

For the last couple of years I have gone back to school. I join other professionals at local middle and high schools for career day. I love these events for their energy and good feelings.

I encourage other professionals and my fellow private investigator colleagues to do the same. These events only take a couple hours but you get so much in return.

Maybe it’s because I’m maturing (I hate that word as it makes me think AARP and the fact that I’m playing on the back 9) but it’s good to share one’s gifts. I am incredibly lucky in that I love my work and get to help people while earning a good living. I recently had to step back from coaching youth rugby because of the time commitment, so any occasion to work with children is a welcome one.

Here is why these career days are good for any private eye or professional:

  • A cure for lone wolf-ism. Let’s face it, investigations is often a solitary gig, either tons of time at the computer, looking for witnesses in the field or sitting in the car on surveillance. Get out  and mingle. Doing your act in front of school kids is a hoot. I have them do scene diagrams, or work on reading body language and interviewing skills. What you do doesn’t matter that much as long as you engage them.  They will ask how much money you make and will think your bizarre but clean stories interesting. Roll with it. If you deal with witnesses a lot like I do it’s good practice to interact with different age groups.
  • Showcase your professionalism. I like to show people in the community that I am a business professional. I dress nicely as a sign of respect for the school, the kids and others. Private investigators often have an image problem as bullies or slobs or creeps. I like to talk about the part I play in the justice system, whether it’s criminal defense or in a civil case. There is a lot of misinformation about what I do for my work so it’s an opportunity to set the record straight or straighter.
  • Might be good for business. I can’t say I have landed cases out of some classroom talks but it couldn’t hurt. Some of the other professionals are attorneys and small business owners. If they ever need a private investigator they might think of me first. Plus, the people at the school will know who I am.
  • Bonding with the community.  I’ve enjoyed going to the local schools, especially in Oakland, because I have heard so many negative and often misleading things. The kids at Edna Brewer Middle School are polite, fun, bright, etc. The school has energetic teachers and caring leadership. Meeting them makes me feel good about my community.

I have noticed that the better private investigators I have met over the years tend to share their gifts through their writing, presentations, communication skills and professional association involvement.  They don’t hoard information or sources and are always hungry to learn and help.Career day is a great opportunity on so many levels.