Martin may be finding the answers to why some people kill the people they’re closest to, among other gruesomely intriguing topics, when she begins an unpaid internship next fall with the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va.
Martin, majoring in both chemistry and criminal justice, is the first University student to be admitted for an internship with the FBI in 21 years. According to John Richardson, chairman of the criminal justice department, students have been trying unsuccessfully since the bachelor’s degree program opened in 1980 to nab one of the coveted internships with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which, he says, has sparingly doled them out over the years. Times have changed, however, and people who benefited from internships at other government agencies are now with the FBI, and they tend to favor expanding such programs, he says.
“In the last 21 years, we have had many students apply for the FBI internship program and she’s the first to get in,” Richardson says. “The FBI has always hesitated to establish an internship program for university students. Historically, they would always say no, whereas now they’re saying yes under pressure from other agencies.”
Martin, 20, of St. Louis, Mo., will study with the agency’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, located near the FBI Academy on the Quantico Marine Corps Base about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Cynthia J. Lent, violent crime resource specialist at the academy, said the agency began marketing the unpaid internships more widely about a year ago. A paid summer internship program for honors students has long been available but is highly competitive.
“For the last year, the unpaid internship has been on the web page so more students are aware of it,” she says. “ It has not been so much an unwillingness but more that the programs were not established.”
Though she technically has enough credits to be a senior, Martin considers herself a junior because she has more than a year’s worth of courses to take to complete her double major. She also is studying for a minor in psychology and carries a grade point average above 3.5. Her strong academic record and her interest in criminal justice, plus a successful interview in November, helped her snare the 14-week internship, Lent says. The academy notified the department of her acceptance in a letter dated Jan. 3.
But it’s not a done deal yet. Martin must go through a thorough background check, drug test and polygraph before her internship is secure. Such steps are necessary to obtain the top-secret clearance she will have as an employee of the academy, Lent says. Such in-depth probing into her personal background doesn’t bother her, though. She says it comes with the territory of the career she has chosen. “It’s necessary when you’re reading and researching on these people, they have to be sure you’re a stable person.”
Martin will participate in research and case studies of various types of violent crime that could include mothers murdering their children, serial killers, child abductors who kill their victims and domestic violence that ends in homicide. She will be assigned tasks that could include researching crimes and gathering, calculating and organizing data, working with police agencies or FBI field offices, observing case consultations with other law enforcement agencies and attending behavioral science classes at the academy.
Rather than being intimidated by the work, Martin is looking forward to all that she’ll learn about criminal investigation. She says her interest in crime-solving was fueled by her father’s career as a doctor. That led her to pair the study of chemistry with her interest in criminal justice.
“I want to do forensic work and crime scene analysis,” she says. “The scientific way to solve anything is appealing to me. They use trace element analysis like DNA, blood and fingerprints. There are different tests you can run on things like paint or fiber or fabrics. There’s a lot of lab work.
“I wanted an internship because it’s a hard field to get into and I do eventually want to work for the FBI, so I thought it would be a good way to get my foot in the door. I like how they do a lot of serial crimes like profiling of violent crimes and I’m very interested in that.”
Lent says about 10 percent of student interns are later hired by the agency. Martin says she plans to first get a masters in forensic science, making her even more qualified for her chosen field.