Internship Provides Stepping Stone for Careers

Alumnus Steven Januhowski credits an internship with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in 1989 with opening the doors to an amazing career in criminal justice.

Steve Januhowski, Corporate Investigator, National Oilwell Varco.
Steve Januhowski, Corporate Investigator, National Oilwell Varco.

Januhowski has served as an officer with the Houston Police Department, as an investigator with the Special Crimes Unit at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and now as a staff investigator for National Oilwell Varco, a Fortune 200 company with facilities in 68 countries.

“I look at my career now and realize it’s been a lifelong learning experience,” said Januhowski, who graduated from the College of Criminal Justice in 1989. “I owe a lot to Sam Houston State University and the education it provided me. It’s priceless, and I would do it again.”

Januhowski is an SHSU Alumnus.
Januhowski is an SHSU Alumnus.
Januhowski is one of two corporate investigators for National Oilwell Varco, a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sale of equipment and components used in the oil and gas industry. The company has 70,000 employees worldwide, and he investigates a wide variety of fraud, including fictitious employees and vendors, embezzlement, metal theft, cybercrime and conflict of interest cases. He also manages the ethics hotline for the company.

Januhowski works all over the country and world, and has traveled to Mexico, Trinidad and Bogota this year alone. Because his job is international, he has to research law enforcement and criminal justice systems in each country in order to effectively process or prosecute the company’s cases.

“The legal system and criminal justice system in the United States are so well streamlined,” Januhowski said. “You have to drill down and find out about the system in other countries. You have to do your research and prepare. You have to learn about the criminal justice system, how it works and who to contact.”

The proceeds from a money laundering case found hidden in a cooler.
The proceeds from a money laundering case found hidden in a cooler.
Januhowski developed many of his local, state and federal contacts at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, where he worked mainly on white collar crime case.

“We worked everything and anything,” Januhowski said. “I was exposed to every aspect of fraud. I handled white collar crimes for 128 law enforcement offices in Harris County.”
Among the major felony cases he investigated in Harris County were employee theft, embezzlement, identity theft, vendor fraud, credit card fraud and Medicaid fraud, to name a few. He also assisted the Special Crimes Prosecutor with several homicide or death penalty cases, including Andrea Yates, who confessed to drowning her five children.

Januhowski as an undercover narcotics agent at the Houston Police Department
Januhowski as an undercover narcotics agent at the Houston Police Department.
“It started the base of how to interact with different types of people – from blue-collar workers to CFOs (Chief Financial Officers),” said Januhowski. “It also brought home the fact that while I might have 50 cases, the victims only had one case that was the most important thing in their life at that time. I learned to slow down and give each case attention. I have to give each case 100 percent of my effort.”

Januhowski joined the District Attorney’s Office after working for 10 years with the Houston Police Department. He was recruited by several people he met at his internship.

“One of the highlights of that internship for me was the contacts that have lasted a lifetime,” said Januhowski. “Many of those contacts have become friends as well…Some events in your life serve as major stepping stones.”

Narcotics concealed in tire rims.
Narcotics concealed in tire rims.
Januhowski began his career with the Houston Police Department after graduating from Sam Houston State University. After doing his requisite two years on patrol, he joined the Motor Vehicle Theft Division and was later appointed to the Narcotics Unit. He investigated mid-level dealers on narcotics and money laundering and was handpicked to work on the DEA’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Unit, where was assigned to transportation corridors, including motels, hotels and restaurants along the interstate. He even did undercover work.

“It was a lot of long term investigations, a lot of travelling and a lot of late nights,” Januhowski said.

Januhowski seized 50 pounds of marijuana during this drug bust.
Januhowski seized 50 pounds of marijuana during this drug bust.
Each stage of his career has been a stepping stone to the next, building on the solid foundation he got at SHSU.

“Sam Houston State University provided the foundation I needed to be successful,” said Januhowski “It gave me the spark that I needed to succeed.”

For up-and coming criminal justice professional, Januhowski recommends taking as much training as you can and to extend your networks as far as you can. He also suggests every officer should spend time in the District Attonrey’s Office to learn about working with victims and the criminal justice system. It will help officers to understand how to take prosecutions from the street to the courtroom

“Take pride in your work, whether it is a small or major task,” he said. “My career has been a progression. I never stop learning and I have been rewarded. I couldn’t have scripted my career any better.”


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