A senior at the University of Alabama is currently interning at the Walker County Sheriff's Office (WCSO).
Kaitlyn Schultz, a Jasper resident, is studying criminal justice at UA. She reports to the sheriff's department twice a week for a full day of work.
Director of operations Nick Key has organized a schedule that gives Schultz one week in each area of the department.
Since arriving on Jan. 2, she has worked in the upstairs lobby, where pistol permits are issued, in the sex offenders investigation division and in dispatch. Before the internship ends on Feb. 11, she will also spend time on patrol, in investigations and in the jail.
"I feel like I'm getting the real version of what I've been learning about. Of course, I only see the bare minimum but I feel like I'm learning more because I'm getting to see it actually happen. I've enjoyed it a lot," said Schultz, whose career goal is to work for the FBI.
Key hopes that Schultz is the first of many WCSO interns to come. He is willing to work with any college in the area to set up an internship program that would meet their students' needs.
His goal is to have at least one intern a semester.
"We have the Explorer program, which is great for high school kids. If they choose to pursue criminal justice in college, they can come right back here. They're already familiar with the department and would already know what to expect," Key said.
Because UA and other schools require students to have an internship in order to get a degree, there is competition for available spots.
WCSO is an option for students who don't get in with departments such as Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa Sheriff's Office, as well as for those who would like to move home and work locally one day.
Though a degree is not required to work in law enforcement, it is an advantage for job applicants.
"If we can get on a guy's or girl's radar when they're a freshman or whenever they get their internship, that's a prospective employee that we can possibly hire down the road because you'll always hire the person with higher education if given the choice," Key said.
Students interested in interning at WCSO can contact Key at 205-302-6464 or email@example.com.