When one thinks of an internship one might envision balancing cups of Starbucks coffee, answering telephones, stuffing thousands of letters, or making hundreds of copies, but for Anna Glaeser, a senior in the Criminology, Law and Society and intern at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) over summer 2012, her experience was anything but that. For 11 weeks, Anna worked with the Missing Children Division’s Case Management team 35-40 hours a week.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was established in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan to address the need for more support in the search for and recovery of missing and sexually exploited children in the United States. Over the course of the Center’s now 28 years of operation it has become the leading nonprofit in training law enforcement and their cohorts to prepare and respond to the thousands of missing and exploited children’s cases each year. Of course, without the capable and dedicated work of those at the Center, there would not be nearly as many success stories of recovering these children and reuniting them with their families.
As part of the Case Management team for the Missing Children Division, Anna worked across several sections and utilized knowledge and skills learned in the classroom at George Mason to apply on-the-job, including: working with crime victims, practicing criminal justice ethics, criminal profiling techniques, and research and analysis methods. Anna says that her regular duties were, “all the same duties as employees” at the Center. She would perform initial intakes of missing children, work with law enforcement representatives and in house federal liaisons, create and distribute posters for missing children, follow up on leads that came through the Center’s 24-hour hotline, help collect DNA and dentals for longer term cases and more! Her favorite duty, of course, was writing recovery reports when children are located. Anna states, “It is an indescribable sensation of joy, relief, and excitement when a child who has been missing for years is located unharmed and reunited with their family.”
Part of the CLS Internship Program is the requirement to conduct research directly related to your internship experience. Anna chose to conduct her research on the role of media in helping to locate missing children. She found the media is, “a crucial tool in missing child investigations. Getting the child’s face out to the public allows for the community to assist law enforcement in locating the child.”
Of course, prospective interns might wonder – what were the best and worst parts about Anna’s internship? For Anna, the best part was the fact that it was such a hands-on experience. “I have gained such valuable knowledge of the work environment that I have not previously learned in a classroom setting.” What was her least favorite part? No, it wasn’t getting up early and fighting traffic to make it to the office on time, it was “the waiting period between when a lead on a missing child comes in and waiting to hear from law enforcement if this would be the lead that would result in recovering the child.” At the end of the day, internships are meant to provide a first-hand experience on what it’s like to work at the subject organization. When asked how her internship experience helped her prepare for her future career goals, Anna says:
“it has taught me more about what path in the Criminal Justice System I would like to take. There are so many paths and opportunities that it can be hard to narrow down exactly what you want to do. Having an internship allowed me to view the work environment from a personal perspective and have a better idea of the kind of work I would like to do once I graduate.”
With a year left until she finishes her degree the internship did not end with a job offer, but Anna says that if she were offered a job with the NCMEC after she graduates she “wouldn’t hesitate” to take it.
When asked what advice she would give to other CLS students considering an internship, Anna stresses, “apply for as many internships as possible, soak up as much knowledge as you can, work hard and enjoy yourself. I may not have gotten the first internship I applied to, but I definitely got the internship that was best for me.”
August 27, 2012