Criminal justice internships are an amazing way to expand your skills before taking an actual job in the criminal justice industry.

Pursuing one can give you valuable on-the-job experience even while still attending school. A lot of federal agencies, as well as police departments across the nation, offer a variety of internship programs. These programs provide students the opportunity to learn about what criminal justice jobs entail.

Some internship positions will allow you to be part of a law enforcement team. This will enable you to learn the fundamentals of the job and gain additional skills in the process.

Typical Intern Responsibilities

An intern’s job may not be that exciting all the time. You’ll be made to run errands most of the time and might also have to do some paperwork. Don’t think that you’ll get to ride a squad car, pull people over for traffic violations, or assist in making arrests.

What an internship will provide you is an expansive overview of the workings of the specific department or agency you’re working in. For the most part, you’ll likely spend 80% of your time observing and the remaining 20% doing actual work.

You’ll also be assigned to specific units such as juvenile, crime scene, or traffic control, to name a few. You might also be permitted to shadow some members of the said units. Nevertheless, due to current laws and protocols, there will be situations wherein interns will be strictly limited to observing. You will also be asked to do some of the least important work. This usually includes helping compile statistics, assist writing reports, developing materials for programs, or answering non-emergency calls.

Will you get paid?

Unfortunately, many internship positions are not paid. This applies to a large number of internships in different criminal justice fields.

This is because you’re trading your time to have the opportunity to see firsthand the everyday operations of the agency or department you’re working in. Moreover, you’ll also have the chance to interact with managers as well as directors in the department you’re in. This is why, in essence, what you’re gaining is priceless. Organizations deem that that fact alone is worth than any form of financial compensation.

Advantages of Completing an Internship

The actual work is one of the main benefits of completing an internship. This experience is what will back up the theories you learned in school. You can have a much better understanding of how the concepts you discussed in class can be used.

More than just the practical application know-how, this experience will also help to serve to boost your credentials. Not many applicants are accepted in FBI or other police departments. There are many applicants vying for internship positions at these agencies so competition can be stiff. When it comes to increasing your chances of being accepted, make sure your academic and extracurricular standing are above average.

Experiencing the duties and responsibilities in your criminal justice internship will help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Based on the work you enjoy as an intern, you can also decide what specialization to take. From there, you  can decide what other steps can help you attain your career goals.

Professional relationships built during your internship period is also crucial. If your higher-ups have seen your dedication and willingness to learn at work, you might likely be able to land a spot in their agency or department in the future. Alternatively, they may also refer you to other divisions looking to hire new recruits and agree to be included in your professional references.

Applying for Criminal Justice Internships

Remember to apply for these internship positions as early as possible. Aside from the fact that there are a lot of other students putting in applications, an agency or department’s selection process can also extend for a few months. They wouldn’t just assess you on your academic merits, but will also likely perform a background check on you.

Check if the college or university you’re attending is already affiliated with any police departments and federal agencies in your state. If so, feel free to ask how you can extend an application with its partner agencies. However, it’s important to not just depend on your school to source internships. Make a list of other available federal agencies or local departments you want to work for and then contact them if they have any internship positions that are open.