Gaining Benefits from Internships
Criminal justice majors interning with GBI
KENNESAW, Ga. (Mar 11, 2020) — Emily Apodaca and Anderson John both developed an interest in criminal justice well before they started college. Now, as Kennesaw State University seniors, they are gaining valuable experience in that field by interning with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Apodaca, who is in the accelerated bachelor’s/master’s criminal justice program, is interning five days a week with the GBI this semester while John, a criminal justice major, spends three days a week at the GBI while working two jobs. Both students also are taking their final KSU classes this spring and will graduate in May.
“This internship is super-beneficial because, first of all, I feel like it’s a foot in the door if I want to get a job with the GBI,” Apodaca said. “Also, I’ve been able to see what each division does – such as the investigative division or crisis intervention team or medical examiner’s office – so I’ll be able to narrow what division I want to go into better than if I wouldn’t have taken this internship.”
The interns’ different experiences have included seeing the GBI’s bomb squad robot in action, visiting the morgue with an agent who was investigating a death and compiling data for a news release about the number of prescription drug overdose deaths in Georgia. One key role for Apodaca and John has been to attend nearly every day of the Georgia General Assembly session at the State Capitol to monitor bills that could have some impact on the GBI or other law enforcement agencies.
Along the way, the Kennesaw State interns are making connections with a number of state leaders and policy makers. A memorable one occurred on the very first day of the legislative session, when John met a gentleman in a Georgia State Patrol uniform who struck up a conversation about the process of a bill becoming a law. John later realized that the man with whom he’d been talking was the chief executive of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
“I wasn't completely sure who I was talking to, but he looked very familiar,” John said. “When I looked him up later on, I was surprised to find out that he is the man in charge of Georgia State Patrol. I understood in that moment the true value of this internship.”
Being involved with the GBI has been so beneficial that John acknowledged “if I could be there five days a week, I would” rather than juggling two jobs with his internship and coursework. Meanwhile, Apodaca, a commuter student, always has something interesting to tell her family after another day at the GBI.
“My family is so supportive,” she said. “As long as it’s something that I enjoy and really want to do, they say, ‘Go for it.’ Every time I go home, they ask, ‘What did you do today? Did you do anything cool?’”
The opportunity of interning with the GBI would not have been possible, John said, without “all the people at Kennesaw State who cared about me and invested in me.” That includes KSU Public Safety officers John has gotten to know, who encouraged him to press on and complete his degree after he encountered some academic struggles and considered quitting college.
“There are people here who want you to do well and will help you succeed if you want to get after it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any such thing as a self-made man – and, if there is, then I’m certainly not it. So many people have helped me out to where I don’t see any other option but to make it, whatever that looks like, and help out whoever is coming up after me.”
Apodaca will continue her studies toward a master’s degree in criminal justice after she earns her bachelor’s in May. That will be the next step in her journey that began with choosing forensic pathology for a seventh-grade project about the career she wanted, inspired by seeing the work of medical examiner Jan Garavaglia on the TV show “Dr. G.”
“It might have been kind of strange for a seventh-grader to do a project on forensic pathology, but I continued down that path and did some criminal justice courses in high school,” Apodaca said. “I liked all the lab work, but I realized I didn’t want to be in a lab all day. I wanted to be out in the field.”
John was drawn to criminal justice at an even earlier age. He recalled expressing an interest in it as a 5-year-old.
“I remember, in kindergarten, drawing a picture of a police car and saying, ‘I want to be a police officer,’” John said. “Everybody has those aspirations as a kid, and I’m sticking with the original plan.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli and submitted
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.