CECH Serves Up Matchless Internship Opportunity

UC Criminal Justice Majors Secure Successful Internships

By Chandler Curry, Marketing Co-Op

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Brandon Berger, Nikki Gross, Tyler Noonan, Michael Loy, Molly Fowler, Justin Showalter on the court

When applying for internships, criminal justice students don’t typically think they will get to interact with professional athletes. However, UC’s criminal justice students are not typical. The UC School of Criminal Justice, well-known for being one of the best in the nation, aids in exposing criminal justice students to unique and rewarding opportunities that they often pursue during internships. In this case, several CJ students interned at one of the nation's oldest professional tennis tournaments, the Western & Southern Open, which began in 1899.

The tournament was first played on the current-day-site of Xavier University but now resides at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, a suburban community just outside of Cincinnati. Many criminal justice majors from surrounding colleges and universities have spent their summers providing security for the tournament, but the 2014 tournament proved distinct for criminal justice majors here at the University of Cincinnati.

During the months of July and August several criminal justice majors from the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services interned as security detail for the Western & Southern Open. The 2014 tournament served as a special year for criminal justice majors at UC, as it was the first year the University provided almost every intern. “We really had to prove ourselves this year, and I believe we did a great job.” said Justin Showalter, a fourth year criminal justice student.

CJ students became aware of the tournament’s internship opportunities when two tournament representatives spoke during a Criminal Justice Society meeting. They spoke of the many benefits the internship offered as well as the unique experiences an intern would obtain. The most sought after position was team leader, which included supervising a 21-person team.

Showalter was selected as a team leader. His duties—working with tournament staff to create protocols, routes, alternative routes, as well as training manuals for his team—began in early summer before his team of interns arrived. “My main duty during the tournament was to supervise player security focusing on transportation and access control.” said Showalter. These responsibilities included escorting the top 40 men and women tennis players in the world to and from practice, matches, signings, and TV appearances.

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Destiny Boehmer, Nikki Gross, Justin Showalter, Lexi Miller at the Security Center

As preparation phases wrapped up and the tournament drew closer, the remaining interns arrived at the Lindner Family Tennis Center to join Showalter. The tournament itself only lasted two weeks in late August, but the criminal justice interns were hard at work in July, training and setting up the site for the world to see.

Third year criminal justice major, Tyler Noonan, thought highly of this internship and never believed he would be working with famous athletes. “This internship opportunity made it possible for me to escort players like David Ferrer, Maria Sharapova, and even tournament champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams.”

Interns interacted with world-class athletes and also safeguarded the athletes by checking credentials and making sure no one was where they shouldn’t be.

“It’s amazing how nice and down-to-earth the players were—so much so that it eventually became a battle between interns for who could escort whom!” Noonan said.

Besides the knowledge and experience they received, the biggest perk was interacting with these world class athletes. “Escorting the players was surreal and easily one of the best things about the internship. This was truly an amazing learning and networking experience,” said fourth year criminal justice major Lexi Miller.

Behind the scenes, after the players finished their signings and interviews, the interns worked hard to dismantle the stages and booths. Disassembling plus ensuring that the players made it to their next event safely became a time management challenge for them to solve.

“Setting up [and tearing down] for various happenings became the most challenging aspects of the tournament.” said Showalter. Interns also had to be light and think on their feet. Athletes could call for an audible at the last second, and it became the interns’ responsibility to make sure the athletes were happy while also making sure they arrived to their destination on time.

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Michael Loy, Justin Showalter, Alex Pollock (top), Cole Dunahay (middle), Markus Lackey (bottom), Leidy Gray, Nikki Gross with carts used to escort players

“It was great to work with people with the same like-mindedness as you," Showalter said. "All those involved were interested in the security aspect of the job so we knew what we needed to accomplish.” 

UC’s School of Criminal Justice prepared the interns for any tasks the tournament threw at them. “The most rewarding aspect of this opportunity was the players shaking my hand, looking me in the eye and saying thank you,” Showalter added.

The personal thanks the interns received from the players reaffirms that UC CJ majors proved themselves worthy, and ended the Western & Southern Open with a love game.

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