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Internship with Central Counties Youth Center
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Cheyanne Ralph

Cheyanne Ralph

Major: Criminology
Minor: Sociology
Hometown: Union, NJ

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about CCYC through the Criminology department at Penn State. During a CRIM 250W class, I learned about a possible semester internship and contacted the department. Soon after, I received a student handbook along with a list of possible internship sites. After searching through the list I found CCYC and emailed the administrator.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

A typical day at CCYC consists strictly of interaction with the residents. As a part-time intern, you are restricted from performing certain tasks, especially if you are under the age of 21. Playing games and participating in activities with the juveniles would perfectly describe a typical day at CCYC. The best thing that happened to me during this internship was being given the opportunity to see what many fields in law enforcement are like. I am now aware of what types of juveniles I will be dealing with in my future career. The training I received fully prepared me to deal effectively with juveniles. I also received a CPR training that is valid for two years and can be useful when seeking a full-time position in law enforcement. CPR training is needed for almost any job in the field. While working at CCYC, I learned that within the facility you must prepare for misbehavior, in which an intervention assessment is usually needed. First, you must develop an intervention plan. Second, assess the behavior (meaning decide whether it is disruptive or attention seeking). Next, assess the resident, the environment, and then yourself. I also learned how to identify oppositional and defiant behaviors (e.g. individuals who like to make deals with authority figures, need to have the last word, violates blatant rules, constantly questions “why?” etc.).

“My internship helped jump-start my career in criminal justice. It was a fantastic place to begin navigating my way to my future career goal.”

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience allowed me to experience a different culture will still earning school credit. For the benefit of my personal growth, I’m eager to pursue a career in law and to absorb as much as I can from its various branches, like family, juvenile and international law. Exposure to a program geared specifically toward my major assured me a highly beneficial learning experience.

What are your career goals or plans? How did this experience impact them?

My internship helped jump-start my career in criminal justice. It was a fantastic place to begin navigating my way to my future career goal. I developed skills I didn’t have before. I can now identify signs of anger in an individual and can better handle difficult situations thanks to the training provided by CCYC. I have a clearer understanding of the criminal justice system because as a CCYC intern you not only come in contact with law- enforcement officials, but legal documents as well related to individuals detained at the center. The internship provided me with career direction that I did not have before. At the beginning of my internship I aspired to become a family attorney. But after completing the internship, I realized that I can do so much more while still working with kids.

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students? If yes, why?

If you are not interested in working with juveniles then my advice would be to seek another agency. As I mentioned before, a typical day centers on interaction with the juveniles. My advice to future interns would be to get fully involved from the beginning. Staff members understand this is a learning process for you and are willing to help.

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