By Wes Gilkey ’17
I am currently participating in an internship with the Athens County Sheriff’s Office through Ohio University.
Value of an Internship
There are many advantages to pursuing an internship. One of the most obvious is that it can provide you with an opportunity to explore your fields of interest in an active, first-hand way. The job market can be a competitive beast, and an internship can provide valuable experience that give you a helping hand when it comes to finding a job after graduation.
One of the greatest values of an internship is that it provides you with education that goes beyond the textbook; it serves you an environment where you can apply the knowledge, skills and attitude you have gained from classes to a real world situation.
Law Enforcement in a Rural Community
As I was growing up in Athens County, most of my friends and family grew up outside of the city limits where the Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement services.
I love the small communities like the ones that dot Athens County, but even as a child it was obvious that the people who live in these areas were often subject to social circumstances that made life difficult, such as severe poverty. I admired the deputies in Athens County as people who made a career out of trying to better the lives of people close to me.
As a criminologist, I enjoy studying how crimes, such as domestic violence or the illicit drug trades, are linked to social problems in rural communities such as high unemployment or poor living conditions.
This internship has provided me the perfect opportunity to apply what I have learned in the classroom to experiences in the field that directly have a positive impact on my own communities.
What I Dreamed It Would Be
During a typical week, I spend two shifts with different deputies working within the county. The vast majority of my time is spent with deputies patrolling roads or responding to miscellaneous calls.
There is never a dull moment; even something as simple as changing weather can influence what kind of crimes are committed or what problems we are needed to respond to. Common calls include well-being checks from concerned neighbors or friends, responding to house alarms, traffic stops, and occasional domestic disputes or drug busts. I have also worked at some local schools with the D.A.R.E. program.
I absolutely love my internship.
It’s exactly what I dreamed it would be.
I really do go help people in my county and community every day. I can honestly say that I have made a positive impact on the lives of people around me by working with the deputies so far this semester. The two days that I get to spend in a cruiser are the two days of the week that I get the most excited for. There are no negative aspects; I spend every day outside doing exciting things and building positive relationships with people around me. I get to see how law enforcement and the criminal justice system operate from within.
While I have many career options in mind, my time with the Sheriff’s Office has affirmed that local law enforcement is a vocational possibility for me.
I encourage all students to work hard in school and find internship opportunities before they graduate. Doing so has certainly furthered my passion for criminology and strengthened my confidence that I am on the right track.