If you want to be at the top of the career game when you graduate, think about an internship while you’re in school. Internships can help you gain experience in forensic science jobs. Employers sometimes are willing to hire interns with little or no experience, especially if the intern is willing to accept little or no monetary compensation. However, the benefits of doing an internship go far beyond your paycheck. An internship also can be the deciding factor that best predicts if this field is something you would really be interested in pursuing as a future career choice. Read further to learn about the benefits of a forensic science internship, and ways to find those opportunities.
Benefits of an Internship
The benefits of an internship can apply to any field, but especially to forensic science. Students who have completed internships obtain employment more quickly following graduation. It also looks great on your resume.
- Work Experience: An internship provides students with opportunities to gain hands-on work experience that you cannot get in the classroom. Companies are willing to train interns, especially if the interns are supplied by a partner college.
- Springboard from College to Career: When you graduate, you’ll learn that many employers are not concerned so much about your academic standing as they are about your work experience. Internships can supply you with that job experience you’ll need when you graduate. Use these opportunities on your resume, and be sure to collect letters of recommendation from your internship to supplement that experience.
- Strengthens Your Career Choice: If you’re not sure that forensic sciences is the right career for you, an internship can help you to decide. Internships are generally short-term experiences, so you can test your future career without commitment.
- Creates Potential for Future Work: Internships are the number one way for employers to find new staff in the U.S. Think about the time spent training you and working with you. If you prove to be hardworking and capable, you may have already landed your job.
- Creates Networking Opportunities: Internships are a great way to meet people in the forensic sciences field. An internship allows you to meet people who might help you land a job later and give you the references and contacts you may need to advance.
- Application of Classroom Knowledge: An internship can be seen as the pinnacle of your undergraduate education. It can give you the chance to use skills you’ve learned in the classroom in a real-life setting. You can begin to prove your qualifications, and show that you can make that transference from book learning to the real world.
- Gain Confidence: Gaining that real-world experience is the best way to build your confidence. What’s more, if you have an impressive resume and stellar reference letters, you will be more confident in your chances of securing a job.
Forensic Science Internships
You can find internships that are based nationally, regionally, and locally through regular offerings from federal, state, and local offices as well as from your college. You might also check with New York State Division of State Police Internships to see if they offer internships. The list below provides some examples of current federal internships:
- CIA Student Opportunities: Apply to participate in one of the outstanding student work programs at the CIA, including undergraduate student internships or undergraduate co-ops, and graduate studies programs.
- FBI Internship Programs: The FBI recruits at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, experienced professionals) and hires individuals with a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. In addition to current job postings, they offer a paid Honors Internship Program as well as a non-paid Volunteer Internship Program.
- Homeland Security FLETC College Intern Program: The FLETC College Intern program provides opportunities for college students majoring in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field of study from across the country, to participate in a Federal Law Enforcement training environment. Each year, three intern sessions lasting twelve (12) weeks are conducted at the FLETC, exposing selected interns to world-class training for a career in federal law enforcement.
- U.S. Department of Justice Internships, Fellowships, and Volunteer Opportunities: The Department’s management offices, litigating divisions and offices, legal and policy offices, and investigatory and law enforcement offices offer internship opportunities to undergraduates, graduates, and law students.
- U.S. Secret Service Internships: The Student Intern Program in Washington, DC, provides unpaid academic study-related work assignments that allow students to explore career options in addition to developing personal and professional skills.
State internships can occur at various agencies or through private businesses. This list provides a sampling of hundreds of internship opportunities throughout the country. Check with your local police, public safety department, or local research labs to learn if they have programs as well:
- New York State Division of State Police Internships: The Laboratory’s Intern Program was established in 1998 to provide students and graduates with opportunities to learn more about the forensic science field.
- Orange County Forensic Science Internships (California): Those applying for an internship with the crime laboratory are expected to have completed at least their second year at an accredited college or university.
- Westchester County Forensic Laboratory Internships (New York): This laboratory has been offering school-sponsored internships since 1977. They provide a mature, highly respected and extensive program which involves a number of forensic disciplines.
- Montgomery County Forensic Science Internship (Ohio): The Crime Laboratory in this county provides, when appropriate, an opportunity for advanced college students who are majoring in forensic science or a natural science, to perform an internship at the laboratory.
Check with your school to learn if they have partnerships with organizations and businesses in the area. Some colleges list these internships on their forensics program pages. Another place to seek internships is through organizations. For example, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences has an internship in applied DNA sciences. Also, the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education provides an internal internship comprised of three five week sections in which the students complete independent mock casework that culminates with mock trial experiences.
No matter where you seek these opportunities, be prepared to approach these internships like you would a job. You can learn how to apply through most internship job description, but be sure to keep your resume, school grades, and other pertinent information up to date. The more organized you are now, the better your chances of snagging a great opportunity to boost your career when you graduate.