Coursework is essential in the field of criminal justice, as students learn the theories and practices that will guide them through the rest of their career.
But there is another, complementary educational path that, in coordination with coursework, can produce better-rounded job candidates: internships.
Students thinking about an internship should begin their search by talking to a trusted professor, academic advisor or professional in the field to determine professional goals and expectations, as well as figure out what kind of internship to pursue.
An internship in criminal justice will provide exposure to people, processes and technologies used in the field. Interns should not expect to solve cases or collect evidence – they should expect a structured and educational experience that complements what is learned in college.
Opportunities for Criminal Justice Internships
A criminal justice internship should introduce students to the inner workings of the field, including such topics as criminal behavior and modern law enforcement practices. Among the activities interns may participate in:
- Shadow professionals.
- Work with community groups.
- Perform research.
- Participate in volunteer training.
- Learn to use new criminal justice technologies.
Potential places for internships include police and sheriff’s departments, juvenile justice programs, community programs, law advocacy groups and even private investigation companies. Internships are available at the local, state and federal levels.
Finding and Applying for an Internship
New England College students have access to comprehensive internship resources, which includes the proper forms to obtain course credit and a listing of potential internship opportunities.
Prospective interns may want to check out leads online. Students who don’t live near the NEC campus can talk to faculty members, friends and colleagues for ideas. It is sometimes effective to simply reach out and cold call an organization to inquire about internship opportunities.
Before applying for internships, students should prepare a resume. Employers will not be expecting much, if any, work experience, so it’s important for the resume to highlight the classes the student has taken, involvement in student organizations and personal skills. Before applying, students should review NEC’s seven steps for students to take regarding internships. An internship form must be submitted for the student to receive course credit.
Making the Most of the Experience
Students should be committed to the internship experience from Day One. An internship in criminal justice provides valuable access to organizations and professionals, who can be called upon in the future to provide references.