Internships and practicums provide students with a wealth of experience during their studies. Students apply their knowledge to practical and field-specific situations. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates who participated in an experiential-learning setting will more likely find work in their field. Experiential learning also helps students choose a career track by giving them an inside look at the field. Studies show that more than 80% of former interns felt that their experiential learning influenced their eventual career path.
More than 80% of former interns felt that their experiential learning influenced their eventual career path. National Association of Colleges and Employers
Practicums typically take place during undergraduate programs and closely resemble a standard course format. Though students work in the field, they also complete coursework and interact with faculty who closely monitor their work. On the other hand, internships more commonly take place during graduate degrees. Interns also work more independently and take on more responsibility than practicum students. Though some internships provide school credit, many offer stipends in addition to experience.
When it comes to internships for criminal justice majors, practical experience serves as one of the most important resume additions. In these workplace settings, students not only observe working professionals, they also learn how to complete specific tasks, identify weaknesses, and network with industry professionals.
What to Expect From Your Criminal Justice Internship or Practicum
What Will I Do for My Criminal Justice Internship or Practicum?
The tasks completed within criminal justice internships or practicums vary substantially depending on the program and the organization. In most cases, practicum students shadow professionals and observe the work environment. Alternatively, interns receive much more responsibility and typically enjoy payment for their work. Generally, practicum students receive instruction through their teacher or supervisor. Criminal justice internships, conversely, tend to involve the interning agency more.
While practicum students may work on practical tasks, they perform fewer responsibilities than interns, who typically possess more experience. In some law enforcement internships, for example, interns complete and audit actual law enforcement training, giving them a start on the competition. Many interns also work closely with professionals, helping them complete actual day-to-day work and getting an up-close look at the job.
In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?
Practicum students and interns find themselves in a variety of settings. Criminal justice internships in law enforcement and correctional facilities enable students to get hands-on learning. This typically entails work within the office or participating in and observing training.
Other settings, such as forensic labs or local and state departments, provide many different practical learning experiences for students and interns. Many of these settings allow students to witness and take part in most of the day-to-day tasks of the profession. While most schools boast working relationships with criminal justice organizations near to the school, online students and long-distance commuters can typically start an internship or practicum at a location near them.
How Long Will My Internship or Practicum Last?
The length of a practicum or internship varies considerably depending on the institution and program. Interns in the Oakland University internship program complete 224 work hours over the course of a semester, which is similar to a part-time job or 16-20 hours per week. The Utica College internship requires students to work full-time job hours throughout the semester.
Within most practicums, students split time between work and school.
Within most practicums, students split time between work and school. The University of North Carolina Wilmington practicum puts students on location in three-hour blocks a few times a week. Students also spend a few hours a week in school reporting on their experiences. Though this general information serves as an effective aid, students should research the specific internship and practicum requirements of each school.
Will I Get Paid for My Criminal Justice Internship or Practicum?
For the most part, practicum students do not receive payment, but they do receive course credit for their work. Practicum students require close supervision, and practicums closely resemble a course setting. Interns, however, contribute much more work to the interning agency, and sometimes receive payment. Prospective students should carefully consider the payment and experience differences between these two options.
Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship or Practicum?
Since most practicums count as part of the degree requirements, students typically receive course credit for completion. Practicum students also complete course work as part of the practicum, reflecting on their experiences and observations. This means that a portion of most practicums focuses on classwook in addition to the workplace.
Some internships offer academic credit. Typically, schools offer students credit for their internship work in other programs. However, many agencies offer internships disconnected from a specific educational program. Criminal justice paid internships usually take this form; they offer experience and a stipend, but do not necessary connect to schools.
How Will My Criminal Justice Internship or Practicum Help Me?
Many internships and practicums require students to complete tasks similar to those of an entry-level professional. While that may exclude any potentially dangerous fieldwork, these experiences allow students to translate theoretical concepts and ideas into practical situations. In many cases, criminal justice internships and practicums enable students to complete some of the tasks and processes required of field professionals. This may include completing arrest paperwork, walking through the steps of an investigation, or shadowing an officer through administrative work.
By participating in criminal justice paid internships, students gain exposure to the realities of the profession.
By participating in criminal justice paid internships, students gain exposure to the realities of the profession. In addition, these experiences give interns an advantage over their competition and provide access to a network of professionals. Most importantly, practical experiences provide students with a chance to see which skills serve them best, how they can improve, and whether they feel comfortable within the profession. Many internships and practicums expose students to an array of professions within a single agency, providing them with an inside look at different career options.
How to Find Criminal Justice Internships
When searching for criminal justice internships, students benefit from a wealth of information and resources. The list below includes some of the most common starting points for aspiring criminal justice interns.
Your School’s Career Center
Job Boards and Internship Databases
Criminal Justice Internship Opportunities
LinkedIn provides an extensive database of internship opportunities in addition to its standard networking vehicle. Students can filter search results to find the opportunities best suited to their needs.
In addition to providing company reviews and information, Glassdoor hosts a job- and internship-search database. Students can sort through internships in their area and read reviews from people who participated in them in the past.
WayUp provides a list of available internships across the U.S. Students can search for specific internships or post a profile that allows interning agencies to contact them directly.
YouTern connects students to interning agencies and organizations. In addition to helping students land internships, YouTern aids in internship and workplace readiness.
For students looking for an internship in a city other than their own, Global Experiences serves as an essential resource. The organization not only helps students get internships abroad, it also helps students situate themselves in their new city and home.
Internships.com is the largest internship database in the world. Students can search internships anywhere in the country in any field.
- National Criminal Justice Association The NCJA strives to improve law enforcement policy, programs, and training. Working with the government, the public, and law enforcement agencies, the NCJA advances communication and improves the effectiveness of law enforcement.
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association The FLEOA represents federal law enforcement officers across the country, working to improve the profession through advocacy and better training.
- American Criminal Justice Association The ACJA seeks to improve the field of law enforcement through better educational standards, more effective training, and more public awareness. The association promotes higher professional standards and improved ethics.