Rising Senior, Samantha Riley (Forensic Science major) completed an internship during the Summer 2023 semester with the Rhode Island State Crime Lab. Read on to learn about her experience!
What was your internship? My internship was with the Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory
Why were you initially interested in this internship? My plan after graduation would ideally be to work in a crime lab, so I was very interested to see what the day-to-day life of an analyst looks like and get a better feel for the general operation of a crime lab.
How did you find your internship? I found my internship through a Google search, but I want to bring more awareness to it for other forensic science students as it was an amazing experience
What did you do as part of your internship? Throughout the 8 weeks that I was with the crime lab, I had the opportunity to work with analysts in the trace evidence, firearms/tool marks/NIBIN, quality assurance, and latent print units. I was able to shadow the analysts as they analyzed actual casework, performed multiple evidence and system audits within quality assurance, was taught basic techniques for evidence analysis, and was given my own mock evidence and mock crime scenes to process and analyze. I also was able to participate in two detective workshops during my internship, as well as being exposed to the NIBIN and AFIS systems.
Has this internship helped you work towards your future career goals? If so, how? 100%. Seeing these techniques as they pertain to actual casework was incredibly useful, and being able to use these techniques myself has given me a newfound boost of confidence in my abilities to effectively analyze crime scene evidence. I feel more comfortable with the ins and outs of a crime lab, how they operate, and have a much better understanding of the steps of evidence analysis (evidence receiving, analysis, reports, testimony, etc.).
What was your biggest lesson/takeaway from the internship? My biggest takeaway from this internship is that every step matters and evidence analysis takes time. The results of evidence analysis may be used in court and can be instrumental in the way a trial unfolds. A mistake in the analysis can completely change a verdict. Every step is tediously performed and documented, each step well explained, and every error corrected with a report explaining the error. Additionally, crime scene analysis takes time. Any given analyst may work a various number of cases in a month’s time, anywhere from 1 to 15. It all depends on the size of the case and the nature of the analysis needed.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar internship opportunity? Reach out early! I reached out to RISCL in November of 2022 for a summer of 2023 internship. Reaching out early and staying in contact with the supervisors shows interest and drive, something they really look for in internship candidates! Additionally, I recommend not putting all your eggs in one basket. Forensic science-specific internships are few and far between, so don’t limit yourself to just one! Apply to a bunch, put your best foot forward in every single interview, and review your offers carefully before selecting the internship offer best suited for you!
The RISCL was an amazing internship with some fantastic analysts and I cannot recommend it enough for any rising junior or senior forensic science student!
Want to share your experiences during an internship? Email Kevin (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the CCPD to learn more about sharing with us!