For a student interested in the field of criminal justice, Kyndra Brown, ’10, landed the perfect summer internship: she spent last summer working in Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), helping to coordinate the state’s second Victim Assistance Academy.

Brown, a sociology major and criminal justice minor, got involved with DCJS and the academy after taking a juvenile delinquency course, taught by Joan Neff, in the spring. Neff, a sociology and criminal justice professor who had been on the steering committee for the academy when it was in development and is responsible for bringing the academy to the University of Richmond, was looking for an intern and asked Brown if she would be interested.

“I knew I wanted to work in a field that brought together social work, criminal justice, and victim assistance but I didn’t know in what capacity,” said Brown, who is also a Bonner Scholar. “This internship seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out where I fit.”

The majority of Brown’s work involved coordinating with the academy’s students and staff. She made sure each of the 30 students had all the correct forms turned in, coordinated housing accommodations, collected photo releases, and compiled biographies on each participant and instructor.

“I gained a lot of practical work experience from this internship,” said Brown. “I also had the benefit of learning from my co-workers’ experiences, especially after talking with them about how they got into their current careers and what they would have done differently.”

At the end of the summer, Brown was able to see her completed projects implemented during the five-day academy. She also sat through the academy’s learning modules alongside the other students, who were police officers, social workers, and attorneys, and had the opportunity to participate in the academy’s mock trial as a lawyer.

“Being immersed in the culture of social services and interacting with people from different backgrounds and organizations really cemented my desire to work in this field,” said Brown. “It broadened my network and exposed to me so many different career options, so even though I still don’t completely know what career I want to end up in, I have a really good idea of what the options are.”

Brown is currently taking a victim services class at Richmond with one of the co-facilitators of the academy. She will graduate next May and plans to attend law school.