Internships in applied sociology

October 26, 2011

Many sociology students interested in careers in social service, counseling, law, and criminal justice complete the Department of Sociology’s Internship in Applied Sociology. Dr. Bernie Zant oversees the department’s applied internship program and regularly places students at the Children’s Home, Catholic Charities, and the Peoria Youth Farm, among others.

Ashley Avila interned with the Hinsdale Police Department for 12 weeks, working day and night shifts. She went on calls with officers and saw narcotics arrests, vehicle crashes and burglar alarms. She also spent time working in the administration and investigations divisions, where she organized old arrest files and completed a presentation for a parking meter project. 

Ashley O’Connor worked in the Peoria County Juvenile Detention Center’s Home Detention Department. She provided reports to the court about a juvenile’s progress and violations, if any, which helped determine whether the juvenile stayed at home during the court proceedings or was detained in the detention center until court proceedings were finished. O’Connor said she most enjoyed speaking to juveniles when they returned from court.

“They were usually really happy to have the chance to go home after spending some time in the detention center,” she said. “They always had questions for me and put a smile on my face.”

Marybel Parra completed her internship in an adult probation office in the 19th Judicial Circuit. While there, she conducted interviews with people who entered their probationary periods, performed Breathalyzer tests, went to court, and checked criminal records. Parra said the internship will benefit her as she prepares to enter law school.

“I learned a lot not only about probation but how the whole legal system works,” she said.

Kristen Friedrich worked with Catholic Charities in Peoria during the January 2011 interim and saw firsthand the importance of case workers and their interactions with clients. Friedrich also worked on home visits, participated in training and team meetings, worked at a local food pantry, and conducted intakes of clients. She was instrumental in setting up and running a self-esteem group for teenage girls.

“The group ended up being a success for these teenage girls,” Friedrich said. “And many friendships and better attitudes were formed through the course of it.”