The School of Criminal Justice internship office provides students with the skills required to be competitive in today’s job market. We strive to build and maintain partnerships with criminal justice agencies in order to foster student success. This guide serves to enhance those partnerships by sharing what we have learned through working with a variety of agencies. We encourage you to incorporate these ideas into the program you provide to our students.
Should you have any questions about the internship program at the School of Criminal Justice, or wish establish an internship program at your agency, please contact Tim Homberg, Career Development Coordinator, for more information.
Goals of The Internship Program
- Support classroom-based criminal justice courses
- Provide opportunities for students to gain useful criminal justice experience, improving employment potential upon graduation
- Provide an opportunity to explore career options
- Provide a link between the academic and operational criminal justice communities to improve knowledge and delivery of criminal justice services
Benefits of Internships
- Organizations benefit when they offer internships to students.
- Access to highly qualified candidate pool for potential/future vacancies
- Minimized recruiting costs and training time
- Observe potential employees under actual working conditions, without a long-term commitment
- Establish connections to university resources
- Meet personnel demands during peak periods and for special projects
Keys to a Successful Internship Program
Building a successful internship program involves several steps.
- Recruit qualified and motivated student interns
- Determine strategies for placing interns in beneficial positions to both the intern and the agency that provide quality learning experiences for students
- Provide training and supervise the intern during the course of the internship
- Provide performance evaluations to the university and be prepared to write letters of recommendation for students who successfully complete their internship
These items are each discussed in detail below.
Developing an Effective Recruiting Plan
- Inform the internship office of the address and phone number of the agency contact person
- Provide a detailed description of planned internship activities
- Periodically contact the internship office to inform them of the agency’s intern needs
- Work closely with current interns to promote the agency to other students
The internship office will:
- Provide students with detailed information about agencies and internship programs through the Career Development Office in 130 Baker Hall
- Post flyers on the internship bulletin board across from the Career Development Office
- Post special requests online and distribute notices via listserv
- Maintain current records for effective advising and referral
Efficient and Organized Placement Procedures
Organizations should establish one contact person who will receive placement requests and arrange agency interviews. This may include forwarding request(s) to individual units who then arrange the interview, but the contact person is responsible for follow-through.
Students are notified of agency selection timeline within three weeks of receipt of placement request. Agencies will initially receive the student’s resume. Additional materials, such as a transcript, application, references, or a writing sample may be requested of the student by the agency. At the time of first contact, agencies should inform students of additional application requirements such as a background checks or vaccination requirements.
Notify students of acceptance or denial approximately two months before their starting date whenever possible. This is ideal in order for students to make alternate arrangements for classes, housing or other internship positions.
Agencies should provide an orientation for interns on their first day that includes:
- Tour of the agency
- Introductions to agency personnel
- Verbal/written descriptions of policies, procedures, structure, etc.
Interns should receive pre-internship training within the first week along with on-the-job training. This should include the following:
- Written/verbal descriptions of their duties
- Outline of their schedule for the semester
- Expectations regarding timeliness, confidentiality, working independently and dress code
- Safety precautions and responses
- Office equipment training such as phones, computers and copy machines
Supervisors should meet with the intern within the first two weeks to review the student’s learning objective statement. Interns are expected to grow in a number of areas in order to receive academic credit. These areas include job competencies, understanding policies and procedures, interpersonal skills, career exploration and research skills such as seeking new information and writing reports.
Interns may have very specific skills they wish to learn or they may need assistance in developing their objectives. They realize that the agency may not be able to provide them with opportunities to accomplish all their objectives. This is a good time to confirm with the intern what they will be exposed to and who they will report to about job responsibilities or scheduling.
Supervisors, both direct and functional, should provide interns with feedback regarding their performance throughout the internship. Tell interns if they do not contribute as much as they are expected. Give the intern time to correct or adjust work behavior. Interns may not realize where the boundaries lie between only doing what they are told and taking initiative.
Developing a Quality Learning Experience
Interns are eager to learn as much as possible and may assist the agency while learning more about the field. Quality learning experiences should include a variety of the following:
- Observation of professionals (at the internship site and at related agencies)
- Intake procedures
- Courtroom exposure
- Routine patrol
- Attendance at professional meetings or training sessions
- Report writing
- Designing or proposing programs
- Reviewing or revising manuals
- Data entry or word processing
- Administrative work
- Developing and working on projects
Clerical tasks should only be a small portion of the intern’s responsibilities.
Performance Evaluation and Letters of Recommendation
The internship program provides agencies with a performance evaluation form which gets placed in the student’s academic file for future reference. Agency feedback helps the internship office determine whether a student will be approved for additional internship opportunities. Employees also appreciate this information when doing reference checks. In addition to this form, interns may request a letter of recommendation when they conduct job searches.
MSU School of Criminal Justice (Our Role)
The school is committed to providing agencies with motivated student interns. As part of this commitment, we will
- Assist in helping to develop an internship program
- Publicize internship options to eligible students
- Recruit and refer qualified students
- Provide applicants’ resumes, cover letters and internship application forms
- Monitor students’ progress to ensure compliance with requirements
Participating Agencies (Your Role)
We highly value our partnership with local, state, and federal agencies. As an internship agency, you must
- Provide students with a quality learning experience
- Contact the program coordinator to discuss specific details of the internship program
- Submit an Agency Data Form
- Provide an orientation and assign supervisory personnel
- Assist students in writing a learning objective statement
- Allow students to observe and participate in a range of agency functions
- Complete an evaluation of the student upon completion of the internship
Committed to Excellence
MSU is a research intensive, land-grant university where people matter. At MSU, excellence is a continuing tradition. Innovative and hard working people create knowledge and actively serve communities—at home and around the world.