My "Federal Semester" Intern Experience

by Andrew Marcoux

Sidebar to the article How NIJ Is Building the Nation's Research Infrastructure by Andrew Marcoux

The goal of the University of Maryland's Federal Semester Program is to equip students with the skills needed to excel in a public-service career. The program includes a theme-based seminar course — my course, taught by experts from the National Counterterrorism Center, was on federal homeland security policy — and professional development workshops, a committed network of alumni and peers, and an unpaid internship for college credit. This is what brought me to NIJ, where I have witnessed the win-win scenario that arises out of pairing students with internship providers.

Joan Burton, director of the Federal Semester Program, put it this way: "The benefits of this program for employers and internship providers include the opportunity to mentor and prepare talented, diverse students for careers in public service and the ability to gain new, youthful and innovative insights into solving the challenges and needs of the future."

Burton added, "Our student interns also provide insights into solving the challenges and needs of the future workforce."

One thing that almost all college students search for in their education is inspiration for their future. This is perhaps even more true for millennials like me, to whom a college education is almost a prerequisite to getting a job. Through the Federal Semester Program, including my internship with NIJ, I am getting real-world experience that reinforces my personal passion about government work.

In my experience, most millennials do not know what they want to do and struggle with their search for inspiration. We want to know that our academic work is on the right track and is helping us to craft our futures. A good internship can help a student with both of these concerns. Working at NIJ has given me the motivation to pursue what I am passionate about. Through my internship, I have encountered a variety of criminal justice topics that have fostered a great respect for and interest in the research that NIJ conducts and promotes. By allowing students like me to be at the apex of criminal justice research — and to participate in front-line work with professionals in their fields — NIJ is helping to build the next generation of the nation's researchers.

About the Author

Andrew Marcoux is an undergraduate student pursuing a double major in government and politics and criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was an intern in NIJ's Office of Communications from October 2013 to August 2014.

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