Pokharel Interns with Loudoun County Juvenile Court Services

by Stephanie Barnett, CLS Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Pokharel Interns with Loudoun County Juvenile Court Services
Bipana Pokharel, B.S. Criminology, Law and Society

What interests you about the fields of Criminology, Law and Society? Do you think it would be exciting to conduct crime scene investigations, catch the bad guy (or girl) and save the day, or track down suspected terrorists? Do you find yourself glued to marathons of Law & Order or NCIS? If so, worry not, you’re with friends. But, how do you really know if that is what you will enjoy in the real world? Answer: you don’t yet, but there is a way to help you figure it out – enter the CLS internship program. This program offers an incredible opportunity for students to receive academic credit toward the major for hands-on experience in the field. To help prospective CLS interns understand the benefits of the internship program, we asked previous interns to share their own experiences. Bipana Pokharel, a junior in the CLS program, interned over the course of the fall 2012 semester and found the program to be “very rewarding” in the opportunity it provided for professional growth and career exploration.

As an intern with the Loudoun County Court Service Unit (LCSU), Bipana worked approximately 38 hours per week. During her time with the LCSU, Bipana worked with the Diversion, Probation, Intake and Court Services unit. She had a vast array of responsibilities in and outside of the office. She scheduled and attended meetings between Probation Officers, juvenile offenders and their parents. These meetings were an introduction to the Diversions program, an alternative approach to traditional court proceedings that helps offenders avoid future criminal conduct. To successfully complete the program, under unofficial supervision of a Probation Officer, juvenile offenders must write essays, complete community service hours, pay restitution (if applicable) and comply with all rules of the program. Outside of the Diversions program, Bipana worked with the Family Abuse Officer assisting with domestic violence cases. The role of the Family Abuse Officer is to assist victims in filing petitions for protective orders against their abusers. Bipana’s role was to follow-up with petitioners to see how they were, answer questions, and attend Protective Order hearings and collect case information for the Family Abuse Officer.

When asked what projects or assignments she found to be the most rewarding or interesting during her internship, it was the chance to visit schools where they supervise and monitor juvenile offenders. Each Probation Officer is assigned to a school where they keep track and frequently check on their juvenile’s activities. She found through these experiences that all persons involved have different perspectives on how to tackle various situations and benefited from sharing those different opinions with one another. Bipana’s favorite takeaway from her internship experience was that it gave her a better understanding of the field and where she saw herself in it. If you ask her what her least favorite part was, Bipana says, “there wasn’t any part of LCSU that I did not like.” Her research on how the Restorative Justice Principle is used and what role it plays in Juvenile Recidivism was informed by her day to day experiences with the LCSU.

Overall, Bipana’s experience accomplished the goal of the CLS Internship Program. It provided her with an experience that furthered her knowledge in the Criminal Justice System beyond the classroom, and helped her to have a more confident and informed understanding of the career paths she would like to pursue. In her own words Bipana says, “it has taught me that hard work and passion is essential in any career.” Although her experience did not end with a job offer, Bipana looks forward to whenever there may be an opportunity to return to LCSU full-time after finishing her CLS degree. Her advice for CLS students: “If you are unsure of which career to choose then the CLS Internship Program is the best place to start. It will give you a broad range of ideas and gives you enough time to think about what you really want to do with your life and career. It’s totally worth it!”