Becoming a Police Officer: Internships
Internships provide a way to gain first-hand knowledge about the workings of law enforcement agencies. Internships can earn high school or college credits. Most college and universities with police studies and criminal justice programs incorporate internships into their course offerings. In addition to providing you with an opportunity to further your education, these programs are very likely to help you make a career decision.
There are two sources of internships. One is directly between you and a police agency. Many, if not most, police and law enforcement agencies provide internships to qualified applicants. The number of internships at any one agency is limited, so the application process will be competitive.
The second source of internships is through your college. As mentioned previously, virtually all colleges with police studies-related majors offer internship courses. Occasionally, specialized internships are available to students in other majors, such as English, communications, behavioral sciences, and physical sciences. In some cases, internship courses are upper-level electives, which means you must be a junior (third-year student) or a senior (fourth-year student). In other cases they are part of the degree requirement. Although undergraduate internships are generally limited to third-or fourth-year students, exceptions are sometimes made for outstanding or especially-qualified students with fewer credit hours completed. Graduate programs may also incorporate field work involving internships. These, too, are sometimes electives and sometimes part of the degree requirements.
How and where internship students are assigned varies from college to college. Generally, your school will have developed a relationship with law enforcement agencies in the vicinity and will assign you to work with one. In other instances, you will be required to find an agency and make the arrangements yourself—with some guidance from your internship advisor—in order to fulfill the course requirements.
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