Murder Trials and DNA Evidence Lead to New Career Aspirations for CLS Undergrad

by Stephanie Barnett

Murder Trials and DNA Evidence Lead to New Career Aspirations for CLS Undergrad

Summer - the time of year that we all wait for. Full of vacation, good food, and relaxation…right? Well, not for Emily Messier. This summer, Emily, a junior in the Criminology, Law and Society program, spent eight weeks observing a murder trial and conducting legal research as part of the Criminology, Law and Society Internship Program.

In the profile below, see what Emily had to say about her experience and why all students should consider pursuing an internship in their field of interest before graduation.


  • Student: Emily Messier
    • Class Standing: Junior
    • Major: B.S. Criminology, Law and Society
    • Concentration: Law and Society
    • Minor: Social Work
  • Internship Organization: Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office, Canton, Massachusetts
  • Semester: Summer 2014

On-the Job

While at her internship, Emily was involved in observing trials and assisting with research. Her regular duties included: taking notes during direct and cross-examinations of witnesses during a major murder trial; assisting with research for a study regarding pretrial identification procedures in an armed robbery case; researching false confession issues in a first-degree murder case; and the importance and validity of DNA evidence in criminal trials. She also worked with Assistant District Attorneys regularly, and conducted interviews with various professionals in the field regarding her research.


When asked what the best part of her internship experience was, Emily had a lot to say. The most rewarding experience was having the opportunity to sit in on a major criminal trial. Emily enthused, “I was able to see the behind-the-scenes action of a trial and got first-hand experience about what criminal law is really like.” In addition, Emily credits working closely with professionals in the field in helping her to more clearly develop her career goals and gain knowledge she could not have obtained otherwise.

When asked about her least favorite part of the internship experience, she had very little to say. There were times when she had completed her work and did not have much else to do to fill her time, but the overall experience made up for the few times that occurred.

The Importance of Networking

Emily’s experience not only allowed her to see behind-the-scenes of the criminal law field, but it also allowed her to develop connections and begin a professional network. She remarked that, the opportunity to work closely with the Assistant District Attorney and law enforcement personnel really opened her eyes to the legal field, and the connections she developed are truly valuable.

Future Career Goals

After the summer, Emily returned to Mason with a renewed career focus. “My internship experience has completely reshaped my future goals, in a good way,” she stated. During the internship, she had the chance to work with victim witness advocates and is now looking into advocacy work after graduation. She discussed how to get into the field with those professionals and ultimately decided to declare a minor in Social Work so she can better prepare for working in the field after graduation. She also discussed how Law School could be in her future, but she wants to gain some more experience after graduation prior to going down that road.

In summary, Emily’s experience demonstrates the goals of the CLS Internship Program in action – allowing students to observe how academic theories are put into practice, and provide valuable skill development opportunities, experience and contacts for post-collegiate career choices. Emily’s advice to other CLS students is,

“Internships are 100% worth the time and effort. There is no class that can give you the knowledge and experience that an internship will.”

To learn more about the Criminology, Law and Society Internship Program and read more stories like Emily’s see the CLS Internship Program website and talk to your academic advisor.