NSights Blog

Student Macie King reflects on her University Police Department-Northern Command internship

‘What I didn't realize at the time was that I was about to join one of the most supportive, caring and energetic work environments I had ever experienced’

When my Journalism advisor told me I needed an internship credit to graduate, I was terrified, to say the least. An internship should be a foot in the door to your dream career, but what if you don’t know what you want to do? I spent hours on Handshake and the Reynold’s School of Journalism job board searching for an internship that spoke to me. I felt overwhelmed as my final semester of college was approaching, and still, nothing was catching my eye. 

To provide some background, I was a Gender, Race, and Identity (GRI) major and a Journalism minor during my junior year. However, I discovered that by double majoring in Journalism and GRI, I would only need to take a few additional classes. Naturally, I decided to take on the challenge. While I enjoyed my journalism classes, I never saw myself in a newsroom or managing a company's social media account. While I see the importance of these jobs and have the utmost respect for those who do them, I just knew they weren’t right for me. I wanted to do something that allowed me to use both my majors and, more importantly, made me feel like I was making an impact in our community. 

Finally, I was searching on the job board and saw the post 'University Police Department (UPD) Community Relations Intern.' To be honest, the UPD part of that post didn’t make me very excited. Both my majors, and, of course, the things I’ve seen while scrolling on social media, never talked highly about police departments. What really made me excited was the 'community relations' part—the part where I can connect with communities and make an impact on someone’s life. So, I applied immediately.

When I got the position, I was simply relieved that I would be able to graduate as a double major. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was about to join one of the most supportive, caring and energetic work environments I had ever experienced. It didn’t take me long to realize that these officers are not who I am reading about in news stories. These officers are here because they care about the safety and well-being of our community, not because they seek a power high or want to get college kids in trouble. Each person in the UPD department has a unique story that brought them to law enforcement and a reason they’ve stayed.

From what I have seen, UPD is quite a special department. These officers have sworn to risk their lives to keep our community safe and have dedicated their careers to protecting our college campuses. Because UPD deals with less crime and has a smaller area to patrol, they can focus significantly on education and community outreach. UPD has the ability to equip the community with real-life tactics to save their lives, whether this be through a self-defense class, an active assailant presentation, or a site assessment. Thanks to UPD, members of our community feel empowered and equipped to protect themselves—something not many organizations can achieve. 

Being an intern at UPD has not only highlighted the importance of law enforcement but also demonstrated the significance of community outreach. One of the most crucial aspects of UPD’s community relations is providing opportunities for the community to interact and connect with officers before they are forced to meet in a time of tragedy. UPD particularly values these interactions with students and children, ensuring they never feel afraid to ask for help. These interactions typically occur on campuses, often over donuts and coffee, and extend to social media, where students can learn safety tips and watch clips of officers engaging with the community. While these gestures may seem small, their impact is significant. They help students see officers as caring individuals they can trust with their safety. Community relations efforts combat stereotypes and allow students to view law enforcement in a new light. Everyone deserves to feel safe around those who are entrusted with their protection.

I am extremely grateful I have had the opportunity to intern at the University Police Department. Not only has my perspective on law enforcement changed, but I have also learned to prioritize my own safety and well-being. UPD has instilled in me the belief that I am worth fighting for and should take any necessary steps to protect myself. Each day at the department brings new learning opportunities and allows me to explore diverse areas that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to explore. Thanks to my supervisor, I have been in an environment that encouraged questions and empowered me to learn. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better internship. 

Macie King in a graduation sash for 2024.
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