After abandoning my original plan of graduating in three and a half years in favor of taking the final course I needed to earn a Business and the Liberal Arts minor, I knew I wanted to supplement my semester with an internship. It seemed to be the perfect time as I only planned to take an accounting course and two electives. Little did I know how useful a smaller course load would be for the internship I ended up in.

I browsed around the PSU Liberal Arts site for local internships and came across an available internship at the Law Enforcement Branch at the Penn State Justice and Safety Institute (JASI) right here on campus at Innovation Park. Coming from a military and law enforcement family, I was immediately intrigued, so I browsed the website. I was really encouraged and impressed by all of the positive reviews I came across so I decided to apply that night. I heard back much sooner than I expected and went in for an interview. I felt the interview went well, and I walked out with a much deeper understanding of what the position entailed. I would be heavily involved in marketing the Law Enforcement branch’s classes, working in Excel and DocuShare, creating and sending emails, cover letters, abstracts, etc. What I appreciated most about the whole interview experience and the follow-up was that my soon to be boss, Mr. Joseph DeStefano, never underemphasized how much work the position would be. He made it clear that, while it would not be a cake walk, the expectations would always be clear and achievable. From talking with the past interns, it was obvious to me the experience was nearly guaranteed to be one from which I would walk away with valuable skills for any future endeavors, academic or otherwise. I saw that the past interns felt a strong sense of accomplishment for what they had achieved, but also that they put in an enormous amount of time and effort to achieve it. I expected my experience to be no different.

I found I settled into the position quickly, as everyone was extremely professional and polite. As promised, I was never assigned a task without support or explanation of how to do it. I walked in believing I would be sent to my cubicle with strict instructions on what I was to do, but the reality was quite different. I was surprised at the amount of flexibility and say I had in how my projects developed. Every week, Mr. DeStefano met with us one-on-one to see how we felt about the internship, what we wanted to work on, what we did and did not like, and what would make the experience better for us. I found that refreshing, as I had never previously had a boss ask me what I wanted to work on. It was apparent to me at that point that Mr. DeStefano and all of my other supervisors were investing a substantial amount of time to make sure I got everything I could out of this internship. I have yet to have another experience like that.

With all of the time and attention my supervisors were taking to train me, it almost seemed as if the time they were investing was not worth the payoff for them, but my opinion changed after I got the hang of things. While my projects were not always glamorous and sometimes just involved typing names into an Excel sheet or sending out mass emails, it was always very rewarding to see the payoffs of that work in the form of new registrants.

I really appreciated that Mr. DeStefano made an effort to assign me business and marketing oriented projects that not only interested me but were relevant to me. While at first I was weary because I was the first intern without a criminal justice or law-related major, after seeing the different range of projects that the other interns and I were working on, it was evident any major could have a place here. Much of what I do relates to law enforcement but also requires skills in technology, marketing, researching, and advertising, among other fields. With such a wide variety of skills required for each project, I am confident the skills of students in any liberal arts major would be fully utilized here.

Overall, I am taking away from this experience everything I hoped for and much more. While it was every bit as much work as promised, I will end this internship confident I could not have spent the semester at a better institution than JASI and I would encourage other students looking for a similar experience. For more information, visit the JASI website. Students interested in applying for a position should visit the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network Symplicity system.

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