Jasmine Aguinaga spent her summer like many college students on summer break — riding in the car, windows down, taking in the town. The difference for Aguinaga is that the car was a South Elgin Police Department cruiser and she was working with detectives as a summer intern. The second-year Elgin Community College student is pursuing her passion for criminal justice, gaining valuable experience before graduation and transferring to a university.
“Taking criminal justice courses is not the same as being with actual police officers,” said Aguinaga. “I wanted to see if it was truly something I was interested in before continuing down that path — I didn’t want to graduate, become a police officer, and realize it’s not what I thought it would be.”
With the help of ECC’s Internship Program, Aguinaga interned with the South Elgin Police Department and worked with police officers, detectives, and community service officers. She learned how they write tickets and citations and observed an autopsy with the Kane County medical examiner.
But the networking aspect proved most valuable to Aguinaga, as she connected with officers on a personal level. “Working alongside them and hearing their stories and experiences helped me mentally prepare for my future, she said. “And they gave me tips on what I need to do to succeed in this field.”
ECC Internship Coordinator Renee Arcos aims to help students like Aguinaga find the right internship. “If a student has never applied for an internship or job before, the process can seem daunting,” said Arcos. “We are here to help them find the opportunities they are looking for and navigate the process, including coaching on business etiquette and professionalism.”
Aguinaga’s internship with the South Elgin Police Department solidified her desire to become an officer, and she recommends internships to those looking to explore their career path further. “It’s kind of a test drive for your future,” she said. “This was a new experience for me, but with ECC’s help, the process went smoothly. I’m on track with my education and more excited than ever about my career choice.”
Read the entire fall 2023 issue of Impact magazine online here.