If you’re considering a degree in criminal justice, then an internship (volunteer or paid) as well as volunteer opportunities might be in your future. Most aspects of criminal justice are essentially hands-on. Classwork can help prepare you, but eventually you will need actual experience in the field. Internships are a great way to do that. Having some internship experience will also help you when you are applying for a position after college, because it shows that you have had some practical experience in the field.
Types of Criminal Justice Internships
While you may find some internships that will provide a small level of compensation, many of them will be simply volunteer in nature. While you may not get paid for your time in the internship, it does provide you with valuable experience that you will need later on. In addition to experience, it provides you a feel of the career itself. It gives you the opportunity to do the work related to your field of study to get an understanding of what it is really like to work in that field.
Once you have applied and been accepted to a criminal justice program, you can start looking for internship opportunities. Some may be available right away, some may require that you have taken a certain number or type of courses first.
- Local Government and Municipalities: Inquiring with a local sheriff’s office or police department is a great way to find and internships, particularly with forensic science. Often you can research and apply to these directly through your school, because they have a working relationship with local law enforcement. In fact, many internships are created in cooperation between your school and local municipalities.
- Universities: The school you attend might also have criminal justice internship programs right there on campus. Often, you’ll apply for these internships right after you are accepted to the school.
- The FBI: Organizations such as the FBI often offer internship programs. Availability will depend on the location of your school. If your school is in or near Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, New York City, Tampa, or DC, there may be internships available. The FBI offers a summer internship as a preliminary, then other internships during the year depending on your performance during the summer.
In addition to internships, you may be able to gain experience in a voluntary capacity. Volunteer programs can be available with local municipalities and through online programs. A volunteer may work performing tasks such as date entry, filing, or being an office assistant. Depending upon your degree focus, you might also work assisting victims of crimes, or other duties directly with the public.
Some internship programs may include college credits. Likewise, some degree programs may require a certain number of internship hours in order to graduate. Even if interning somewhere is not a requirement of your particular degree, being an intern will provide you with life experience you will need later. It can give you an idea of what it is really like to work in your field, and give you practical skills that you will use throughout your future career.