August 26, 2013 (Jupiter, FL)-
As students return to the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University after an exciting summer, many of them will arrive with stories of their summer activities: groundbreaking research opportunities, exotic study abroad programs, and internships in a variety of fields. For Wilkes Honors College student Parker McDonald, this summer has been monumental. McDonald has spent the last three months working as an intern with the United States Marshals, an opportunity that has brought him one step closer to fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a law enforcement officer.
At the end of last spring, McDonald heard about internship opportunities with the U.S. Marshals and jumped at the chance to apply. It seemed like a great chance for McDonald to gain hands-on experience in his field of interest. “My goal after I get out of school is to work for a federal law enforcement agency, so I thought this would be a good way to get some experience in the field, as well as make some connections.” On May 14th, right after McDonald arrived home in Gainesville, Florida, he began his work with the Marshals. As he anticipated, his internship turned out to be an excellent complement to his academic studies.
Concentrating in Law and Society, McDonald has spent a great deal of time learning about the pursuit of justice in the United States. However, his summer internship with the U.S. Marshals allowed him to witness law enforcement firsthand. “In a lot of my classes we talk about theoretical issues surrounding the criminal justice process,” states McDonald. “For example, what kind of punishments criminals should receive, privacy concerns in investigations, police use of force, etc. … After my internship, I have direct experience with the people who affect these issues.” Indeed, the Marshals have been a driving force behind the formation of American law enforcement for centuries. The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is the oldest American law enforcement agency, created in 1789. While the USMS originally served as a group of armed aides for the federal court system, the duties of the organization quickly evolved to include the pursuit of federal fugitives, transporting federal prisoners, protecting federal witnesses who may be in danger of retribution for their testimonies, and managing criminal assets seized by the federal government.
As an intern, McDonald was offered a glimpse of all the effort that goes into protecting the interests of the United States Judiciary. Not all of it was glamorous. “Most of the work I did was typical intern stuff. Making copies, sorting mail, and other things like that,” he admits. “However, a few times a week there would be more exciting things to do. I helped book prisoners, tagged along on investigations, and got to participate in Taser training.” It is these more hands-on moments that McDonald remembers best. “My favorite part of the internship was the days I got to go out and interview people as part of an investigation. I got to learn tricks of the trade from people who had been doing the job for years,” he says.
One of the many “tricks of the trade” McDonald picked up from his time with the Marshals was learning to stay active during slow periods. “The most difficult part of the job was staying busy. Some days, there was very little to do, or whatever was going on was too dangerous for an intern to tag along,” he explains. Learning to stay motivated when the streets were quiet required a lot of focus. “Some days you had to be content with just chilling in the office and waiting for something to happen.” Still, McDonald feels that the three months he spent with the USMC were well worth the investment of time. “I would definitely recommend this internship to another student. Everyone I worked with was really nice, and I learned a lot. It’s a great way to check out a career in federal law enforcement,” he insists.
Now approaching his senior year at the Honors College, McDonald feels that his time at the “HC,” as well as this summer internship, have prepared him to take on the next hurdle in his journey to becoming a law enforcement officer. “After graduation I plan to attend graduate school for criminology, and then enter the police academy,” says McDonald excitedly. “Hopefully, after a few years in local law enforcement I can get promoted to investigations or a federal agency.” McDonald, as well the other members of the Honors College community, look forward to the beginning of this academic year, confident that it will provide many more exciting opportunities for students to reach for their academic and personal goals.
About Florida Atlantic University: Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu