By Jim Graves, Internship Coordinator
Criminal justice is Norwich’s most popular major, so it is not surprising that it is also our most popular field for internships. Norwich Career and Internship Center data show that criminal justice students make up approximately 20% of all recorded internships each semester. In 2015, 22 criminal justice students completed internships. Many students choose to take CJ 405, the criminal justice internship course, which let them make real contributions to their host organizations.
Professor Stan Shernock, director of the School of Justice Studies and Sociology and a CJ 405 instructor, the purpose of the course is to provide a structured learning experience in a criminal justice agency. This includes law enforcement, courts and legal services, corrections, human service, and other justice-related agencies.
CJ 405 has six students enrolled and interning at the following organizations: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Barre Probation and Parole, the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the federal Public Defender’s Office for the District of Vermont and the Barre City Police Department.
Criminal justice internships are open only to criminal justice majors of junior or senior standing and to criminal justice minors (with the instructor’s permission). Students work on real projects that benefit their organization.
Nick Leapley ’18, for example, is interning with the DEA’s Williston, Vermont, office. His project will be to improve the organization’s method for storing nondrug evidence such as like cellphones, cash and case documents. Leapley will organize these items, which are often simply left in a storage room, in relation to Homeland Security cases.
At the Vermont Public Safety Department, Danielle Hamilton ’18 will create the training schedule for all emergency responders throughout the state and oversee the training database. Her supervisor, Vermont Homeland Security Training Coordinator Kimmie Cruickshank, said Hamilton has been invaluable to the office’s mission and Vermont’s training exercises.
The Vermont Federal Public Defender’s Office in Burlington, Vermont, represents people facing charges in federal court. As their intern this fall, Sophia Buono ’17 has accompanied their investigator to meet with a bank robbery suspect at the Swanton Corrections Facility. She has accompanied him to defendants’ homes. Kevin Ridgely, federal investigator for the Federal Public Defender’s Office, said Buono often summarizes police testimony in court for him when he can’t attend himself.
Her primary project will be researching the accuracy of the state’s police dogs to rate their credibility in court.
Barre City Police has two students working on a community resources project. Under the supervision of Barre City Police Chief Tim Bombardier, criminal justice students Anthony Bue ’17 and Jacob Boylan ’17 are designing a survey to send to community service organizations. Survey results will be complemented by in-person interviews with the agencies. The goal is to create a document at the department that people seeking services within their community can tap.
Besides completing at least 120 hours of work at their internship sites (about 10 hours per week in the typical semester), the students in this three-credit internship course meet as a group four times during the semester to share their experiences with their classmates. Students are required to write a learning contract during the semester’s first two weeks that outlines their goals. This student signs this contract along with the site host and the instructor.
Shernock has advised CJ 405 for the last 15 years. Before him, Professors Max Schlueter and William Clements oversaw it. For the last four years, Norwich’s internship coordinator, Jim Graves, has worked with Shernock, attending the class meetings and going to the internship sites and meeting in person midway through the semester with the students and their supervisors.
Although students are encouraged to complete a project that directly benefits their organizations, they may also choose an alternative assignment that could involve task environment analysis or values and ethics. The course requires students to apply their accrued criminal justice system knowledge through supervised experiences. Studying and understanding criminal justice practice’s psychological, organizational, ethical, political and policy dimensions are emphasized.