Illinois college students have been an integral part of the ICA for over a decade, because the field of criminal justice offers a diverse range of employment and career opportunities. Whether corrections, law enforcement, probation/parole, or support professions such as counselling, education, business and finance, or health care and other services,there are many options for students in all disciplines.
ICA/ACA STUDENT CHAPTERS
The American Correctional Association (ACA) strongly supports students, and student chapters of the ACA are one example. Because membership in the ICA includes membership in ACA, students who join ICA are members of both organizations. In 2004, Northern Illinois University became the first ACA/ICA student chapter in the state, and was shortly followed by Western Illinois University, Concordia University, Westwood College, and the University of Illinois/Chicago. Students at schools that do not have student chapters are encouraged to participate in the activities of schools that do. Because criminal justice is such a broad field, ICA student members come from a variety of disciplines in the social sciences (sociology, criminal justice, psychology), business/accounting, social work, and even arts and music and many more.
ICA STUDENT ACTIVITIES
In addition to student chapters, the ICA offers numerous activities for students:
Tours: The ICA has periodic tours for students through Illinois prisons and jails. Because of their ACA/ICA status, students generally get far more comprehensive tours than normal classroom tours. The tours have included all Illinois maximum security prisons, many medium security institutes, two women's prisons, and county jails, especially in Cook County and McHenry counties. Of special interest are "shadow tours," in which students individually "shadow" a staff member through their rounds and experience what it is like to work in a prison. Students also periodically tour Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) prison and attend the prisoner rodeo.
Networking and mentorship: Membership in the ICA provides students with the opportunity to connect with professionals in their chosen fields. The ICA hopes to sponsor future job fairs and other activities to connect students with potential employers. A considerable number of student ICA members have obtained employment in their chosen field through connections made through tours and conferences.
Conferences: The ICA encourages students to attend ICA and especially ACA conferences. In the past decade, Illinois students have been active in attending ACA conferences, presenting papers, and networking with professionals nationally. The ACA has annually sponsored a highly competitive paper competition for student members, which provides an opportunity to display writing and research skills in the poster paper session. Illinois students have done exceptionally well over the years in winning the competition or in placing in the top three.
Learn about your chosen profession: ICA involvement provides the opportunity for indepth familiarization with the broad range of careers in criminal justice. This provides an awareness of what a profession entails, and provides experience that can be useful on job interviews.
The ICA is committed to developing the next generation of criminal justice professionals, and we encourage all students to participate with us.