W&J senior finds field experience with Pittsburgh Homeland Security

Created: October 17, 2017
Last Updated: January 14, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Oct. 17, 2017)—With an eye on a law enforcement career and the knowledge from her double major in international studies and political science at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J), Kira Baierl ’18 pushed for summer experience and found exactly what she was looking for in her internship with the Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

“I think it was a great experience. I could look and see how government works, and what it’s like to work for the city, and I made a lot of good contacts,” Kira said.

Kira applied for the internship program after her friend and W&J alumna Stephanie Sweat ’16 shared an online job posting about the position.

The internship gave Kira a variety of learning opportunities. She helped to create the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, an endeavor to train community members on dealing with an emergency while waiting for first responders to arrive. She also participated in various trainings, including an active shooter training.

Outside the office, Kira patrolled major events in the city, including the Pittsburgh Penguins Parade celebrating their Stanley Cup Championship win, during which she helped update an information system that keeps track of incidents happening in the city. On the Fourth of July, Kira observed officers in action and saw seven incidents occur throughout the night.

“It was a very active night, and very interesting. I really enjoyed it,” she said. “Everything was happening in front of me, and I wanted to go help, but as an intern, I couldn’t do anything. Still, I learned a lot from just observing.”

Seeing law enforcement officers at work has cemented Kira’s desire to go into field work, and she’s currently considering a few paths for her future, including working with the FBI, the state police, and the state Department of Defense (DOD).

Whatever her future holds, Kira feels confident that the education she’s received at W&J has prepared her for life beyond the classroom.

“I think it’s really helpful the way our curriculum is set up to get you a broad view of different things that aren’t specifically related to your major or future job—like I’ve done Arabic for four semesters, and as I become more fluent, I’m able to use that to better communicate,” she said. “Being comfortable not solely focusing on one subject will really help me in the future.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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