The Forensic & Investigative Science major at West Virginia University is a practitioner-based program. The forensic faculty is committed to the training of professional forensic personnel. This commitment requires that students have the opportunity to translate classroom experiences into direct services in an appropriate law enforcement agency or institution. In order to assure that students have the opportunity to access and improve skills in applied settings, on-site supervisors as well as faculty provide supervision. All internship experiences are supervised in both group settings and one-on-one individual instruction by both on-site supervisors and an assigned faculty member, most often this faculty member is the Internship Coordinator.
Overview and General Information
WVU’s internship program in forensic and investigative sciences is the largest in the U.S. For most students, the internship experience is the gateway to their first job. Students often receive job offers from their internship site as soon as they have completed their degree. At the very least, the internship supervisor provides an invaluable first professional reference. The internships program at WVU is coordinated by Martin Overly, but is ultimately overseen Department Director Keith Morris.
Full-time students must complete their internship in the summer between their junior and senior year. Exceptions to this rule must be approved, in writing, by the director of the Program.
A successful internship is a three-way partnership. The program will work with you to find a site that complements your interests. We will assist with all paperwork and will work with sites to insure that they provide you with a meaningful experience. The internship sites and coordinators will show you the real world of forensic and investigative science. However, the single most important factor in a successful internship is YOU. Take the initiative from the start, help find a site, work with the coordinators to make it happen, and make all required deadlines and meetings. What is expected of you here is no less than will be expected of you when you take your first job; in fact, the internship is your first forensic job. Make sure to approach it that way.
Students should check with their advisors to ascertain that they have completed all of the necessary course pre-requisites. Enrollment does not guarantee admittance or placement. Decisions regarding placement are made in the formal application process. Internships such as volunteer work outside the oversight of the Program cannot substitute for the required internship hours. Any and all internships MUST be approved by the Program.
We define an internship as a professional experience consisting of a minimum of 270 hours (effective Summer 2015). The internship will typically last about 8 weeks @ 35 hours/week. This translates to 6 hours of WVU credit. In some cases, internship sites will only accept students who are able to work more than 270 hours (i.e. full summer internship) and in sometimes students will have the opportunity to accrue more than the required 270 hours if they choose to do so. The internship must be completed in an approved agency, laboratory, or institutional setting. The actual hours required may be slightly adjusted by the director. The internship is expected to provide the opportunity for students to function as full time employees with a full range of professional activities. All activities normally conducted by a full time forensic specialist at an approve agency will be considered appropriate. However, students must realize that they are not full-time employees of the hosting site. They are guests that the site has agreed to host and assist and students must remain mindful of the significant effort that sites and internship coordinators invest in the internship experience.
Career Significance of the Internship
All students in the FIS program are required to complete an internship to graduate. Because of this importance, policies and procedures for finding, organizing, and completing the internship are carefully spelled out here and in the associated pages. Make sure you are familiar with and comply with these requirements to insure the best internship experience possible.
The selection of internship sites and subsequent performance at these sites are crucial determinants in the formation of your future as a professional forensic specialist. Students should be aware that, in the past, a number of students have received employment at the site at which they completed their internship. The selection of a meaningful internship experience includes the following considerations:
- Internship provides a student with an opportunity to make practical application of information and refine knowledge gained in previous classroom experiences and laboratory experiences.
- Internship experience makes a graduate more attractive to future employers because they anticipate less time and effort in training and orientation.
- Prospective employers tend to network candidates and are more likely to hire those with positive recommendations received from professional counterparts at internship sites
- The selection of an internship site is a testimony of a candidate’s commitment to a particular area or forensic specialty.
The expenses for the Summer Internship include summer tuition and special fees. All students are responsible for their own living costs associated with their internship. Occasionally students receive paid internships; however, most internships are unpaid.