Internship Spotlight: Hailey Mendes & Warwick PD

In the Spring semester of 2022, senior Hailey Mendes completed an internship with the Warwick Police Department as one of their Spring interns. Read on to learn about her experience!

If you’re interested in doing your own internship but don’t know where to start, make an appointment with your Career Advisor by going to Handshake.

What was your internship? My internship experience was with the Warwick Police Department. I was able to get this position through contacting the Sergeant whose name is William Castaldi. I was an intern who got to experience all the different divisions in the Warwick Police. During orientation, I was shown around the station and got to see all the different departments Warwick has to offer.

Why were you initially interested in this internship? I was initially interested in this internship because I wanted to get hands-on experience. I learned a lot through my four-year degree, but doing an internship was more interesting. I got to see how officers handle certain situations and how to figure out which position is for me. Unlike certain stations, Warwick is decently sized, so they have a lot of divisions to look into. The officers there are also very kind and understanding. They all seem to have a good relationship with other officers in the department. When seeing officers work together, they knew how to bond and joke around as well as be serious and focused on the job. I also got to apply what I learned in classes to the experience with officers.

How did you find your internship? I found this internship through my own Google research. I could not find any on Indeed or Handshake that seemed to work with my schedule or was not interesting to me. Some police departments did not have active internships, so I looked up police departments that are doing internships. I found Sergeant Castaldi’s contact information on the Warwick Police Departments website and emailed him asking if they have a 2022 internship.’

What did you do as part of your internship? I was able to see the mental health division where the woman would go to specific calls that officers need a psychological perspective on how to control the situation. She also showed me how to know when an officer is on a beat but not on a call, when they are on their way to a call, and when they are actively doing a call. I was able to do a ride-along with the Traffic Divison and School Resource Officers. While doing the ride-along, I was able to use the speed radar gun, learn how to type in license plate numbers, how to make a ticket, and how to look up if someone has a warrant/is seen as dangerous. I was able to sit down with the prosecution division which worked with juveniles. I was also allowed to look at a previous homicide case on a PowerPoint. I was able to choose between the censored version or the explicit, which showed the actual scene when the officers arrived, with the victim’s face covered. Also while in the detective’s division, I got to see the lab they have there where they keep the evidence and process that evidence. I also got to see someone process a drug to see if
fentanyl was found in it. I got to work with the K9 officers, and see a K9 demonstration. I was also able to see the K9 Officers’ cars and the dogs they have at the station. Lastly, I worked with the Police Athletics League officer. He told us about how he helps youths that are in high-risk schools and do not have sports like regular high schools. This helps officers engage in the community and help these kids out and have a fun experience like other youths.

Has this internship helped you work towards your future career goals? If so, how? This internship helped me a lot. I realized that I could be an officer and that I learned more than just what is seen on the tv. I wanted to just be a detective and skip the officer part, but in RI you can not do that. You need at least three years as an officer before applying to become a detective. I also got to speak one on one with the Sargent to ask him questions about the police academy, what to do next, and just any other information about being an officer. After doing multiple ride-alongs, I learned that officers are not always going to active shooting calls, they can just be pulling people over for speeding or not wearing a seatbelt. It helped me realize it is a great thing to be an officer and then take the written test to hopefully become a detective. This internship gave me more of an inside look at what officers do day in and day out.

What was your biggest lesson/takeaway from the internship?
I learned what position/division is for me or what isn’t. After completing this internship, I knew that this department is one that I enjoy and want to apply to in the future. A big takeaway from this is that you can learn a lot from your degree, but there is a lot more to it when it comes to being an officer.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar internship opportunity? The advice I would give is not to be afraid to ask questions to any of the officers who are working with you. These officers want to help interns understand what they do daily. The officers loved to answer questions when I asked them anything. They also do not mind answering personal questions such as “what experience was the hardest to go through?”, “Is there any experience that stuck with you”, etc. They want to help as much as they can, by telling their experiences. Sergeant Cestaldi is also very accommodating and understanding when scheduling his interns. I had a tough schedule with five classes, work-study, and my regular job, but he still made sure I got hours. You can also do this internship that is not needed for credit and still get hours. That is what I did because I wanted to get a real-life experience.

By Richelle Hurley
Richelle Hurley Career Advisor