By Rachel Zynel, contributing writer
Oakland University’s fast-growing criminal justice major is offering students an in-depth look into the various professions in the field through a specialized internship course.
CRJ 430: Internship in Criminal Justice is part of Oakland’s recently launched Criminal Justice Program, which began in the fall 2012 semester. The program currently enrolls more than 150 students.
The course is taught by Kimberly Byrd, the program’s coordinator of field and student support, who works to place students at internships in career paths of their choosing.
“I try to tailor the experience based on what the students want to do,” she explained. “I have students in the courts working alongside judges, attorneys and probation officers; in police departments where they’re in charge of 911-dispatch, booking, and the tether program; and in the sheriff’s departments and jails.”
Prior to coming to Oakland, Byrd spent years as a social worker in northern Macomb County. She said the relationships she built there helped her find these internship opportunities for her students.
And with OU offering the criminal justice program at its Anton/Frankel Center in downtown Mt. Clemens, these internships give students an opportunity to work directly with the Macomb County sheriff, judges and attorneys, in the courthouse and jail, and more.
|OU's Kimberly Byrd.
Chelsea Carson, a psychology major with a concentration in criminal justice, completed her internship with the Waterford 51st District Court’s Probation Department in the winter 2013 semester.
Carson was given the opportunity to work directly with probationers, acting as a probation officer.
“I held appointments and had to confront probationers when we found a positive or late drug or alcohol test,” she said.
“I was able to go to court with the probation officers and see how the court proceedings and reviews went. By the end of my time there, I was actually seeing my own clients. I never could have imagined how much I would learn in just a short four months with the department.”
Byrd believes internships are important because of the real-world exposure they give students. It’s a chance to get their professional feet wet before stepping out into the job market.
“Some of these students have never had exposure to anything like this, so the internship is a wonderful learning experience. They come out of it growing both professionally and personally.”
The internship also provides students with a way into the “hidden job market,” by creating valuable connections and networking opportunities.
“It’s great networking,” Byrd said. “These people that they’re coming in contact with know the inside world. They know where the openings are before the general public. They can write you letters of recommendation and make calls to get you into those companies.”
Sociology major Raquel Reyes graduated in spring 2013 with a specialization in criminal justice, after completing her internship with the Auburn Hills Police Department.
During her internship, she rode alongside police officers in the patrol cars, participated in a study in the records department, and worked in the dispatch center and property and evidence room.
Reyes saw the importance of networking first-hand. Reyes was able to talk with members of the A.H.P.D. to learn how to interview with police departments and found out about job openings directly from her supervisor.
“Overall, my internship was a beneficial experience and my appreciation for the criminal justice system has only grown in result. I am so thankful that Kim Byrd was able to get me an interview at Auburn Hills P.D. and I am thankful for the wonderful experience A.H.P.D had to offer.”
To learn more about programs, courses, and events in OU’s Criminal Justice Program, view the website
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