Michael Horstman

Michael Horstman - Criminal Justice Internship

SHARON, Pa. — Penn State Shenango senior Michael Horstman, a criminal justice major who is also minoring in psychology and human development and family studies, has been an intern with the Hermitage Police Department throughout the spring 2024 semester.

Michael discusses his internship experience and how he took advantage of the opportunity to learn every aspect of local law enforcement, and also shares how his work in the classroom has uniquely prepared him for this profession.

Begin Q&A:

Q: How did your internship experience with the Hermitage Police Department come about?

A: I had previously attended the Citizen’s Academy through their department where I had met the current chief Adam Piccirillo. The combination of this, and that one of our Penn State Shenango baseball coaches is an officer in the department, provided a good connection. I had reached out to Chief Piccirillo at the start of last semester about the possibility of doing my internship in his department.

Q: What roles are you fulfilling as part of your internship experience?

A: My roles throughout my internship shifted because I wanted to get experience in all sides of law enforcement. For the most part, I spent much of my time with patrol officers. I had also rotated to working with detectives and spent the first hour of every day with Chief Piccirillo learning about administrative tasks within police departments.

Q: How have your experiences in the classroom at Shenango prepared you for the work you’re doing with your internship?

A: The combination of a degree in criminal justice and minors in psychology along with human development and family studies put me in a unique position to understand the way people think, why they think that way, and how to make ethical and moral decisions. My education at Shenango also allowed me to understand that you need to strive for more. So often people become complacent, and I have learned that complacency in the field of criminal justice is a horrible thing.

Q: What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned throughout your internship experience this semester?

A: The biggest lesson that I have learned throughout my internship is to treat people with respect. In law enforcement, so often the people that you are interacting with on a day-to-day basis are having the worst days of their lives. This can also be applied to every interaction that you have because treating people with dignity and respect can lead them to treat you in the same way.

Q: How have you applied your real-world experiences to your remaining classes at Shenango?

A: One major way that I can apply my real-world experiences to my remaining classes at Shenango is to understand that everything is not black and white. The world almost always operates in a grey area, and this is something that students do not often apply to their education.

Q: What career(s) are you interested in pursuing after graduation, and has your internship helped you to reach your goal?

A: The jobs that I have been applying for and am interested in have had the tendency to fall in the same line as my internship, in law enforcement. More of my focus after school has been directed towards state and federal law enforcement but the lessons learned during my internship can still be applied. On the state level, many of the laws and regulations that I had interacted with apply to state level law enforcement as well. Whereas on the federal level, local police departments often do not have the resources needed so they lean heavily on federal law enforcement agencies that do have the resources. On every level of law enforcement it is also important to treat people with respect and fairness which was a major lesson in my internship.