For many college students, landing their first internship is daunting. It’s a challenge that Lexi Naskiewicz ’23 is all too familiar with. During her sophomore year, the public leadership College Park Scholar grew discouraged after not receiving any invitations to interview in response to her internship applications. Then, she decided to leverage her network and reached out to College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program Director Susannah Washburn for help.
Washburn’s guidance exceeded Naskiewicz’s expectations, and she connected her with Hassan Aden, a police chief of the Greenville Police Department in North Carolina. Over a Zoom call, Aden learned about Naskiewicz’s research interests and shared several internship opportunities with her. Naskiewicz applied to four of Aden’s recommendations and was ecstatic to hear back from all of them, eventually landing her an internship with the National Police Foundation (NPF).
“I learned to use your professors as a resource for help and guidance when finding internships, because they more than likely have some sort of connection to someone in your field of interest,” reflects Naskiewicz. “We are on a campus with the most incredible professors who collaborate and network with other scholars, peers and colleagues.”
Through her internship, Naskiewicz worked on a variety of projects, greatly expanding her knowledge and skills. However, she opted to devote most of her time to evaluating the gender-based violence training curriculum of the Chicago Police Department, since that was the research area which most interested her. This project also allowed her to flex her qualitative data collection and analysis skills, since Naskiewicz was tasked with coding a survey with over 1,000 respondents. Most importantly, it helped her to understand how to network from within an organization.
“I learned how to make connections with my team and other employees at the company,” says Naskiewicz. “They were so willing to teach me and mentor me.”
The internship also offered Naskiewicz a meaningful opportunity to apply her coursework. During her first semester at UMD, she completed CCJS340, which centered on police reform. Through this class, Naskiewicz realized that she was highly interested in research to improve the equity and efficiency of police departments. By working with the NPF, she was able to advance innovative policing reforms through policy research.
“I felt like I was on the cutting edge of important change taking place in police departments across the nation,” shared Naskiewicz. “I was able to apply the knowledge I had learned at the University of Maryland to the real life problems and plans for reform going on right now in our country.”
As she continues her studies, Nakiewicz hopes to maintain the network she created within the foundation and her research on police reform.
“The collaboration among team members was exciting and inspiring to me, and I continued to learn and grow over the five months that I was there,” says Naskiewicz. “I hope to keep my connection with the NPF and the people who I collaborated with. I will be forever grateful to Professor Washburn and for Hassan Aden for supporting and guiding me with this internship opportunity.”
- Social Policy