The Charger Blog

Forensic Technology Grad Student Experiencing Unique Internship with Local Police Department

Nicole Charbonneau ’21 M.S. says completing an internship with the Waterbury Police Department’s forensic division during the global coronavirus pandemic has taught her resilience, in addition to offering myriad opportunities to apply what she has learned in the classroom.

July 21, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Nicole Charbonneau '21 M.S.
Nicole Charbonneau retrieves cones and placards at a crime scene.

After Nicole Charbonneau ’21 M.S. earned her bachelor’s degree, she spent three years working in the emergency department of a hospital, often encountering trauma patients with injuries such as gunshot or stab wounds. She saw firsthand how a forensic team collected evidence, and she was interested in doing similar work.

After researching opportunities in forensics and reaching out to police officers she knew to learn more, she enrolled in the University’s graduate program in forensic technology. This spring, she began an internship with the Waterbury Police Department’s forensic division.

“I have been able to apply the skills and techniques I’ve learned in the classroom and see them executed in real-life scenarios,” she said. “I am a very hands-on person who likes to be involved, so seeing the processes I’ve read about makes me eager for my future when this will be my daily life.”

Image of Nicole Charbonneau '21 M.S.
Nicole Charbonneau at her internship with the Waterbury Police Department.

Her internship enables her to follow cases from start to finish, accompanying crime scene technicians and exploring topics such as ballistics, evidence processing, and computer crimes.

Although Charbonneau is grateful the global coronavirus pandemic did not stop her from competing her internship, she says it has had an impact. For example, since courts have been closed, she has not been able to witness courtroom testimony firsthand. She has, however, still been able to go out on calls and visit the State Forensic Science Laboratory.

“I was the first intern to be at a police department in the state of Connecticut,” she said. “The pandemic has taught us all how to make the best of the situation. Crimes do not stop for a global pandemic, and I view it as an advantage in that it gave me a challenge to face early on in my journey, which made me realize I can, in fact, face unforeseen challenges.”

Charbonneau’s internship has enabled her to have a wide array of opportunities, such as test firing seized firearms, inputting fingerprint cards, observing evidence packaging and processing, crime scene documentation, and report writing. She enjoys the variety, and she believes she was well prepared for her work as an intern.

Image of Nicole Charbonneau '21 M.S.
Nicole Charbonneau (left) has test fired seized firearms at her internship.

“The University of New Haven has prepared me for my internship by providing me with a solid foundation of knowledge that I am confident will help me accomplish my future goals,” she said. “I have learned the necessary terminology and guidelines to follow in order to complete my delegated tasks. I am confident that, upon graduation, I will be ready to face all challenges a crime scene presents.”