Intern Spotlight: Troy Chadwick ’12

Troy Chadwick

Troy Chadwick, Senior (May 2012)
Major: Integrated Science & Business
Minor: Forensic Science
Internship: Special Agent Intern with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigations

How did you find out about the internship? What interested you in the internship?

I started my search for an internship in the fall of 2010. The entire time I have been at Whitewater, I knew that I wanted to work in the field of criminal justice or forensic science. Much of my elective coursework is in those two areas.

I started my search on the UW-Whitewater Hawk Jobs website. Much of what I found was business related, therefore not what I was looking for. I took it upon myself to find an internship that fit the criteria I had. During a class with Dr. Pete Killoran, I was referred to a website for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences which had links to jobs. While searching through the jobs, I came across a posting from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). The Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has an established internship program run by Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Joell Schigur. All the directions on how to apply were listed, and applications were due in January. The first week of March, I received an email stating I had a time to interview. I interviewed for the position and received a call the next day stating that I had been offered an internship in the Milwaukee Field Office, pending a comprehensive background check. I passed the background check and orientation started on June 6, 2011.

Describe your internship experience.

While in the office, I was responsible for assisting a Special Agent with case-related duties. These duties included authoring reports using a case management system, compiling reports to be used for discovery at trial, statistical analysis of drug overdose deaths, and intelligence analysis.

Although we were in the office a lot, we were in the field about two days a week. In the field, we assisted Special Agents with surveillance, intelligence gathering, serving search warrants, and other case-related duties. Some things that I participated in were search warrants of subjects arrested for drug and/or child pornography. I also assisted an agent with a controlled drug buy. Lastly, all nine DCI interns were in Hayward, WI the second week of August to assist multiple agencies with the eradication of a large scale marijuana grow and conspiracy.

What did you learn during your internship experience? How did this opportunity relate to your career goals?

The most valuable experience I gained this summer was learning how to build a case from start to finish. I did a lot of work this summer with a narcotics agent, and he showed me a lot about how cases start and what you have to do to build a case strong enough to give to the prosecution and get a conviction.

Building a case is the one thing I learned that I will never forget. There are certain techniques very similar to steps of the scientific method that lend themselves to performing investigations. There are also special legal pathways an agent must follow in order to ensure the work (s)he has done will stand up in a court of law.

A very high majority of the agents that work at DCI started off as police officers; even the administrative positions are filled by people who were once officers. The experience I had at DCI has influenced me towards going to the police academy after graduation (but I am not 100 percent sure yet).

What advice would you give other students about internships?

My advice to future students is simple: You need to have a clear choice on what you want to do. You cannot start searching for an internship, or a job for that matter, if you have no idea what you want to do. For me, it was forensic science. Once you have chosen a clear path, you can more effectively search for a company that will be the best fit.

Laura Jacobs in Career & Leadership Development is an invaluable asset to any student trying to find an internship. I had meetings with Laura on more than one occasion where she helped me search through Hawk Jobs and find many other internships and companies I otherwise would not have found alone.

The final piece of advice I would give to perspective interns is to apply to as many internships as possible. I was lucky enough to get the one internship I really wanted, but there were others I applied for that I did not even get a chance to interview for.

Congratulations Troy on being selected as UW-Whitewater Intern of the Month for November 2011!

 

Are you having or have you had an outstanding internship experience like Troy? Tell employers, faculty, and, of course, fellow UW-W students what makes/made your internship experience so great! Be featured in the Intern Spotlight! To learn more, visit the UWW Intern of the Month Program page.

Be sure to check out past featured students’ stories as well!

Last-Minute Internship Search

The Point of No Return

On Monday, I hosted my “Last-Minute Internship Search” workshop. I covered a variety of strategies that students can employ at this point in the semester in order to hopefully secure an internship for this summer…which is only about a month, month-and-a-half away.

I know that there are still plenty of people in this last-minute boat. So for the next few weeks, I am going to cover a strategy you can use at this point in the internship search game. This week’s focus: Internship Postings.

Essentially, internship postings are electronic want ads. Many of you are likely using this resource: searching online internship/job boards is easy. But the ease and volume of users is one of this strategy’s downfalls. Internships that are posted have higher exposure, leading to more applicants and more competition.

While perusing internship postings seems like a no-brainer strategy, here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Identify positions of interest. Most internship posting sites allow you to search in a number of ways. You can use keywords to narrow down options or possibly sort by industry or job category. On the other hand, you might be able to pull up EVERY internship listed. This can be helpful if you’re not sure what you’re looking for – you can gain some insight into what types of internships appeal to you and work from there.
    • UW-Whitewater Internships Website, “Find an Internship” section: Access Hawk Jobs, General Search Resources, and Field-Specific Programs/Resources.
    • Hawk Jobs: Within Hawk Jobs, UW-W students can access some “hidden” treasures. Navigate to the Career Resources section along the top menu. EmployOn and Internships.com are both excellent.
  • Research the organization. The importance of employer research can’t be stressed enough. The information you gather about an organization should be used as you craft your application materials and during the interview process. Here are some questions to explore:
    • What does the organization do?
    • What is the size of the organization?
    • How is the organization structured?
    • What is the organization’s reputation?
    • What are the credentials of their top leaders?
  • Understand the application process. Worst-case scenario: You find an internship you would LOVE, and then completely miss the application deadline. Know how to apply and mark applicable deadlines.
  • Adapt your application materials. Targeting your resume is key at any point in time, but I might argue it’s even more important now. You want to stand apart from the competition in the best way possible. Make it easy for an employer to “see” how you are qualified. Develop a cover letter specifically for the given internship and for the particular organization. Your cover letter provides you with an opportunity to go more in depth about what you bring to the table, especially important if this would be your first internship. Work with a career counselor on both of these important documents.
  • Submit your materials. Enough said.
  • Follow up. Follow-up is a key step in the process, but it’s also a delicate one. Follow up too soon, too often, or too inappropriately and you can erase any chance of getting an interview. First, only follow up on your application IF it’s ok. Some organizations will specifically state, “No Calls.” If you see this, don’t follow up. If follow-up is an option, as is most often the case, then do so just before the deadline or 2 weeks after your application submission. You can check that they received your materials, ask what the next step in the process is, inquire what the anticipated timeline is for the process, and express your continued interest in the position. Short, sweet, to the point.

Be sure to start NOW and work at your search consistently. Not much time remains. Next Monday, I’ll cover Employer Sourcing. Stayed tuned!

Photo by Pat Hawks

Question of the Week:

What is your favorite site for finding posted internships?

Quitting Is Not an Option

Domo-Kun in all his Splendor

Photo by dailyinvention

Can you believe that March is already upon us!? The spring semester is flying by, and, if it continues this way, summer internships will be starting before you know it.

I know many students have been searching for a summer internship for a couple of months now…or for those who started in the fall, for several months. If you are one of these students and you haven’t yet secured an internship, I can imagine that frustration might be setting in.

If this describes your current state of mind, here are some tips to keep you going:

  • Assess Your Progress. Are you getting interviews? Since the purpose of your resume is to land an interview, your resume might be in need of some help if internship applications are not converting into interviews. Scoring interviews but not getting the job? Your interviewing skills might need a little work. Make an appointment with one of our career staff in Career & Leadership Development for a resume review or “mock” interview.
  • Quantity vs Quality. Are you throwing your application at any living, breathing internship you find? A lack of focus in your internship search could spell trouble. Just as with a job search, there should be a verifiable reason as to why you’re applying for a particular position…and it shouldn’t be because it’s an “internship.” What career field do you hope to go into, or what are a few fields you’re interested in? Don’t know? Take a step back to figure this out before you do anything else.
  • Be Strategic. Are you only searching online job boards for opportunities? You could be limiting your possibilities. Networking is a key strategy to employ in your internship search. Hometown connections, family contacts, professors…this is only the beginning of your current network. Get the word out there that you’re looking for a summer internship, talk with people who might be able to offer the kind of internship you’re seeking, and possibly try to create your own opportunity.

Now for a reality check: You could use all of the advice above and still find yourself struggling to secure an internship. It happens. There is a lot of competition out there, and sometimes there’s nothing different you could have done. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

However, one thing I don’t want you to do is quit. The internship search is time consuming and challenging, and it’s all too easy to just abandon it in favor of an easier alternative. Resist the urge, remain persistent, and reach out for assistance.

Too Young to Intern?

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Internships have become a must for college students in all fields. And it’s becoming more common for students to engage in internships earlier and to graduate having had multiple internship experiences. So why is it still a challenge to find opportunities open to freshmen and sophomores?

Historically, internships, if done, were an integral part of an academic program. This internship component didn’t take place until junior or senior year, when students were immersed in their major coursework. While there are still some academic programs at UW-Whitewater that contain a required internship component, the world of internships has loosened up considerably and is no longer solely in the academic domain. But somehow, the junior/senior-only element hung on.

So what can you do if you’re not a junior or senior yet but you want a summer internship? Here are some ideas to help set yourself up for early internship search success:

  • Know what you want to do and why you want to do it. I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but I can’t stress enough how important some initial career decision-making can be. You need some focus and to be intentional with your search. And while your internship might be part of your exploration, it should be in a field you are legitimately considering. As a freshman or sophomore, you might already be considered to be less professionally serious than a junior or senior. Be sure to exude decisiveness. And while the field you choose now might not be where you end up, it should be something you could see yourself doing after completing your initial research.
  • Develop a knock-out resume. If you are a freshman or sophomore who already has an impressive resume – with a job or two, college activities, and maybe some leadership roles – you should be taken more seriously as an intern candidate than someone with little to no background, even juniors and seniors. To get your foot in the door, you need to be able to prove that you can do the job. Provide that proof and increase your chances of getting an internship.
  • Network! Back to being a broken record. No matter your class standing, networking is essential to an internship search. As a younger student, it could hold even more weight. Start with your parents or other family members. This is a great way to give them the opportunity to help you in your career development. Connect with other adult-adults you know in your hometown – friends’ parents, teachers, coaches, etc. If you have had and continue to have good relationships with these people, they will be more likely to help you take this first pre-professional step.

Keep in mind that some companies will offer internship programs specifically for freshmen or sophomores (J.P. Morgan is an example). Other programs are targeted at freshmen and sophomores, like the Disney College Program. Some organizations, like smaller non-profits, might be more open bringing on a younger intern.

It’s all about starting to build your personal brand and selling your skills to a potential employer. If you can do this well, you are more likely to land an internship.

Question of the Week:
What challenges are you facing in your current internship search?

Bring On the Summer Internship Search


Photo by Mark Zimmermann

Welcome back from winter break! I hope you had a relaxing, yet productive time away from campus. Many students’ summer internship searches kick into high gear now. What should you be doing? Here are some ideas:

  • If you don’t know what you’re looking for, figure it out NOW! Your internship search becomes exponentially more difficult if you aren’t clear on what kind of internship you’re seeking. I meet with far too many students who, when asked what kind of work they hope to do, say “anything” or “I don’t know.” First, this doesn’t help me help them. Second, there are a lot of different types of opportunities out there – how will this student even begin to narrow it down? Now, this isn’t to say that you must make a decision about the rest of your life right now. However, you should have an idea of one or two career fields you’re interested in and hoping to explore through an internship.
  • Have your resume reviewed by a professional. For most internship applications, a resume is a must. Since you spent time crafting your resume over the break (right??), it’s time to get some feedback to make sure your resume is as competitive as possible. Schedule an appointment with a staff member in Career & Leadership Development. Get some feedback from a trusted faculty mentor. Keep in mind that summer internships tend to be more competitive than fall or spring opportunities. Set yourself up for interview-obtaining success.
  • Set up a search schedule. People say that a job search should be a full-time job in itself. Does your internship search need to be a full-time job, too? Probably not. Should it be like a part-time job? Maybe. Devote a few hours every week to your internship search. This includes looking up opportunities, making contact with people in your network, and submitting application materials. Schedule this time, just as you might schedule study time, and commit to respecting the time you have set aside.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out other posts to help you in your search: Search Tips & Resources.

QUESTION FOR YOU:

What internship search questions do you have? Leave a comment below.