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The Best of Being a WDOC Intern
September 22, 2009 — Having just finished her first year at the University of Wyoming in May, Kristen Young was looking for a challenging summer job that fit into her chosen major of criminal justice.
She searched the state Web site and found a job that looked good at the Wyoming Department of Corrections (WDOC). She got an interview at WDOC and admitted that though she prepared for the interview, she felt that she'd failed. "I was asked about auditing and some other topics I didn't know about and so I really felt that I wouldn't get the job," she said.
Directly following the interview she went to visit her mom who works at the Governor's Office and, coincidentally, WDOC Director Bob Lampert walked in. When her mom introduced her to the director, Kristen was so befuddled that she questioned that he was really the director, and of course, he laughed. That added to her unsettled state of mind.
Good for her and good for the department, Kristen got the job. She was hired for a 13-week internship by the Division of Prisons, working directly with Bil Carter and Dutch Fla Havhan in the Industries Program.
Carter, State Industries manager, said, "Kristen did an outstanding job this summer supporting Correctional Industries and the Prison Division as well as other divisions. Her performance exceeded expectations in all areas and it was a challenge to keep her supplied with tasks, as she was extremely quick to finish whatever was assigned. She really enjoyed coming in asking for additional work!
"Kristen has a dynamic personality and it was truly a pleasure to have her on my team, if even for such a short time. I wish Kristen success in her studies and the very best the future has to offer."
Kristen said the weeks flew by and she was given some really interesting and meaningful work.
"Not only was I given the opportunity to visit several of the institutions, I was given projects that intrigued me and confirmed that I had found the field that I wanted to pursue," she explained. Adding to the experience were meetings she attended that focused on a variety of subjects including budget, industries, the Correctional Industries Advisory Board, wardens' monthly meetings, and WDOC business. She was also able to visit with a couple of WDOC probation and parole agents and accompany them on home visits as well as to court appearances.
She's a firm believer in internships now.
"I think it's very important that students participate in internships," she said, "and that they do it early in their college program." She explained that the experience was very beneficial to her and though she never before even thought about corrections as a potential employer, she is now definitely interested.
"Everyone was so friendly and welcoming to me," she said, and that was important for her experience. Previous jobs had been in a completely different venue so this was the first "office" job for her and there was much that was unfamiliar about schedule, protocol and, of course, the work of the department. She said that she worked really hard and was able to get involved in some worthwhile projects.
"I loved the Wyoming State Penitentiary. All staff was so professional, it was clean, and it was a new experience being around inmates. I visited the garment and print shops and really enjoyed that.
"I'd suggest that it (an internship) would be best to start early. I will be entering my sophomore year in college and I feel like I have a real head start on what my career will be.
"This experience has given me the assurance that CJ is the right field for me.
"The reason that the internship has been good for me is that I was given meaningful work. If that had not happened, I would probably have regretted my decision to take the job.
"The people here are awesome. Everyone is helpful. I have my own space with my own phone and computer. It's been a good summer."
Kristen Young, center, tours the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institute with Prison Health Services employee Melony Patterson, left, and WDOC Health Services Assistant Beth Mathews.