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COLA Connections Newsletter: Summer 2016
Student Spotlight: Rich Barney discusses his internship with the US Marshals
Most RIT students know that they will have to do a co-op at some point in their undergraduate career. Some students may wonder how to go about finding one, and what to expect on the job. There are a lot of resources at RIT to help prepare for the search process, but in this interview, a fourth year RIT Criminal Justice student and peer mentor, Rich Barney, tells us first-hand what it was like to find an internship, why he stood out to employers, and what the job entailed.
How was the application process for your internship? Was there anyone on campus who helped you prepare?
Rich Barney: The process included a lot of paperwork, because it was a federal internship, so there’s a lot of background paperwork that you have to submit. It was pretty easy, filling out your name and your background information. The only other thing was that I had to have Laverne [McQuiller Williams, Department Chairperson] sign a form saying that I was a full-time student.
How did you hear about the internship?
RB: I kind of got myself into it, because the Marshals is what I want to do most out of all the agencies. So since we have to do an internship in the CJ program, I looked into it myself. I had Joe [Williams, Field Experience Coordinator] call them for me the first time. After that, I just took care of everything. And after they found out I was a veteran, that helped me.
Can you tell me about your internship with the US Marshals last semester?
RB: There was a lot of sitting in court, because that’s one of the main jobs they have, when they bring the prisoners in and they have to protect the federal judges. I did get to fingerprint some of the people they brought in off the street - that was kind of cool. The more they get to know you and trust you, the more they let you do. At the end, they let us go on the street with them on some of the cases. So it was cool to actually see people getting handcuffed for doing very bad things.
Can you clarify what the Marshals are responsible for?
RB: Many things - tracking fugitives, getting them off the street. They now have task forces with local state police, so they can go after pretty much anybody that’s a high risk. Sometimes we did just go after RPD suspects. Aside from that and the protection of judges, they also do asset forfeiture and seizing property. Like if someone is going to jail, their assets will be liquidated. They also do witness protection, that’s a little lesser known. And they’re not Air Marshals - that’s under TSA.
What was your favorite thing about your internship?
RB: Going after the fugitives - they go after the worst of the worst people, so in my eyes, that makes it the most important of the agencies.
What do you recommend to people in your field who are trying to obtain internships?
RB: Have a strong resume, make sure it’s well put-together. And practice interview skills. After my internship, I got sit in on the next round of interviews for internship applicants, and I got to see their resumes. A lot of people don’t have a resume. So you want those skills ahead of time. Connect with other students who have done internships - I gave good recommendations to my supervisor for two of my friends who wanted to be interns.
Do you feel that your courses at RIT have prepared you well for your internships?
RB: As much as I love the CJ department, I’d have to say our program focuses more on analytics and research, and not too much field work. So I think the classes could be more geared toward that. But having the military background was probably the most important thing. Our program is good for preparing students for law school, or for research-based work, like in the Center for Public Safety Initiatives. There’s a lot of critical thinking, it’s not a “cop shop.”
What kind of classes have you taken that helped you work towards achieving your specific career goals?
RB: I’ve taken a course called Law Enforcement in Society - which focused on actual police work. There’s another course in Technology and Criminal Justice.
What do you think is the main benefit of doing internships?
RB: For me, it’s the networking. Since I did a pretty good job as an intern, the guys at the agency give me a heads up if any openings come through. My supervisor says I’m first on his list for their co-op program. Also, it’s a good way of knowing if it’s actually what you want to do after graduation. Some people have it in their mind that ‘this is definitely what I want to do,’ but then they see it as an intern and they say ‘this is definitely not what I want to do.’ As an intern, you get to see a lot more than what you read or hear.
What are some networking tips you have for students, not just in your program but anyone who wants to do an internship?
RB: Know how to present yourself as a good candidate, have a mini-resume in your head, like an elevator speech.
Can you tell me about your upcoming internship?
RB: That’s going to be with the ATF, here in Rochester in the Fall. I’ve been told that I’ll be assigned to a specific special agent and shadow them. Like with the Marshals, we had our supervisor, but if he wasn’t there, we’d get assigned to one of the other deputies.
Is there anything you want to add?
RB: I like waking up in the morning knowing I’m making a positive difference in the community. One of the best days was when we took a sex offender off the street. Right before the holidays, we got a list of people who had to be taken off the street, and there was one guy who definitely needed to be apprehended, because he lived near schools - so it’s good to get someone like that off the street and make the town a safer place.