The Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC) is managing a dramatic expansion in the undergraduate internship program which provides students with the opportunity to gain experience in crucial aspects of social science research in the field. This includes working with primary and secondary data related to offenders/offenses, victimization, mental health, youthful offenders, reentry, law enforcement and/or criminal justice processes. These internships provide opportunities for Ohio State undergraduates to gain valuable, practical experiences in preparation for graduate/professional school and future careers in criminal justice practice.
The CJRC leadership made the decision in summer 2015 to actively expand the scope and depth of our CJRC Undergraduate Internship Program. The program began in January 2012 and has steadily grown both in scope (in terms of placement opportunities) and in the number of students placed as interns. Our goals in the internship program are: 1) to reach out to faculty affiliates and local criminal justice agencies to determine if they are working on research that would benefit from the involvement of highly motivated and prescreened undergraduate students; 2) advertise the internship positions widely to reach out to undergraduate students in a wide variety of disciplines; 3) implement a strict screening process that includes face-to-face interviews to select students best matched to the particular project and 4) follow-up with the interns and faculty affiliates to monitor the progress of the students and projects.
As of Dec. 30, 2015, we have matched 92 students (more than 530 students have applied with 156 students interviewed for these 92 positions) with the CJRC, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; Ohio Victim Services; Historical Violence Database; Ohio Public Defender (Wrongful Conviction Project and Mitigation and Investigation Divisions); Columbus Police Department (Crime Lab and Criminal Intelligence); Department of Homeland Security; Office of Criminal justice Services Policy and Research Bureau (human trafficking research initiative); Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services and a number of faculty affiliates.
CJRC student interns have an average cumulative GPA of 3.64 and most have plans to attend law school, graduate school and/or to work in the criminal justice field. During fall 2015, the CJRC placed 23 students in research positions in the field, many of whom will continue with their internships in the spring. At the beginning of spring 2016 term, , the CJRC has confirmed 26 internship placements with a total of seven additional positions in the process of interviewing and making final selections.
Over the past 6 months, the CJRC Internship Program has expanded in two critical ways. First, the agencies who have taken students in the past like the Ohio Public Defender’s Office; Columbus Police Department; Office of Criminal Justice Services and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction have taken additional students in expanded research roles. Secondly, the CJRC has expanded formal internships, cooperative professional efforts and linked staff with several new community partners such as the Office for Sustainability and Conservation; Franklin County Department of Homeland Security; Ohio Department of Youth Services; Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Ohio Health Department. Several additional internship placements are in the process of being developed.
Additionally, the CJRC, in conjunction with partner agencies, has created several important documents that are used to guide and evaluate the internship opportunity from both the student and supervisor point of view. Further, the creation and approval of a MOU for the internship program which identifies the guidelines by which CJRC will provide educational learning opportunities for interns and for delineating responsibilities for the effective supervision of this process with partnering agencies has been developed. We are also now collecting information on post-graduation career plans and the majority our interns have gone on to law school and graduate programs. Discussions with faculty members and policy/research analysts as well as students involved in the program have indicated highly enthusiastic responses with all describing how beneficial the program has been to the further development of research, data collection and career goals. Students emphasize the value of hands-on research training, the opportunity to contribute to knowledge or research tools, and the resulting payoffs in terms of facilitating their entry into jobs or post-graduate programs (e.g., graduate school or law school).
The expansion of the CJRC Internship program has also resulted in greater direct contact among the professional researchers from our community partner agencies and the researchers and faculty at Ohio State.
Finally, as we move into the spring semester, we are working on two new developments in the continuous evolution of the CJRC internship program. First, we hope to begin to offer paid internships. Currently, one of the positions we are working to fill (Statistical Analysis Division of the Ohio State Highway Patrol) is a paid internship which will be a first for the CJRC undergraduate internship program. We anticipate another position or two will be available in the summer term that will also provide compensation. Secondly, we are in the process of expanding internships to remote locations during the summer term. We are working with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center to provide internships in the Cincinnati area to graduate and undergraduate students who may be from the greater Cincinnati area and wish to gain valuable experiences during the summer while away from the main campus. We are also in contact with similar community partners in the Toledo and Cleveland areas.
We are committed to continuing to develop, enhance and explore ways we can connect on all levels with our community partners to provide outstanding opportunities for our student affiliates. Please see the related articles in the right hand column which include interviews with a student and a supervisor from one of our community partners’ agencies. For more information on the CJRC Internship Program, please our webpage at: Criminal Justice Research Center Internships.