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Criminology field practice gives students valuable work experience

March 01, 2019
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The School of Criminology’s field practice program enables students to integrate valuable work experience with academic learning. The program, taken either part-time or full-time, places a student with a criminology or criminal justice sector organization. By the end of the work term, the student will have learned occupational skills and competences, and developed professional relationships. The program blends academic analysis with work related activity to provide an effective transition for students, whether they wish to enter into a professional field or continue with academic work. 

We interviewed Field Practice Coordinator Helene Love, lecturer in the School of Criminology, to learn more about what students should expect from the field practice program. 

How is the field practice program structured?

The student is placed with an affiliated organization, who has designated an experienced professional to act as the student’s field supervisor. The field supervisor assigns work that aligns with materials covered in the Criminology program. The student will also be assigned a faculty supervisor within the School of Criminology who will assign work and relevant readings are applied to the student’s experiences in the field. It’s sort of like combining a directed readings and work experience – so they get to work closely with a faculty supervisor. They get directed readings, and critical thinking type assignments that allow them to apply what they’ve learned to theory. 

How does participating in a practicum benefit students?

It’s an opportunity for students to integrate what they’ve learned theoretically in their classes throughout their degree to a practicum. During the practicum, students work closely with an organization within the community, within their area of interest. Students will also get a supervisor relationship with an individual – a senior position within the organization – to show them really what criminology at work does. Students get professional exposure to the issues they’ve learned about in class, and at the same time, they get to help out, to be part of an organization, and to give back to the community, which I know is always really satisfying for other reasons. 

Who is eligible to participate? 

Students should review the Field Practice Program guidelines on the School’s website for information regarding program prerequisites and deadlines. Besides the academic requirements, students must be prepared to behave professionally and to commit themselves to work with an organization for the full course. 

What type of placements are available? 

I’m just getting the program started back up so am touching base with police detachments, law offices and social justice firms that used to be involved with the program.  

May students find their own placement? 

Yes, I welcome students to bring their own organization forward. I would urge students to suggest organizations that they may have a connection with or want to work with. If they have a contact person for me, I will screen the organization, direct them to the guidelines posted on the School’s website, and hopefully we can set up a placement opportunity. 

Is the program competitive? 

It is competitive. Not every student will be placed with an organization right away. Students will need to meet the academic requirements, and then apply for placement opportunities with a cover letter and resume. Ultimately, the organizations will select who it is they want to work with. Once a student has found a placement, I find them a faculty supervisor and enroll them in field practice. 

Will the program extend a student’s studies or delay graduation?

No, you complete your degree in the regular amount of time. The practicum is a way to finish off your degree. As something you do in your last couple of semesters at school. There is a part-time option or a full-time option, so you can take a full semester or take a few credits of classwork while you do it. 

Visit the Field Practice Program for full details on prerequisites, deadlines, and expectations.