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Internship Leads to Career Choice

by Carol Best

Triple jumpers are exceptional athletes often possessing a natural ability to perform the complicated jump. But they don’t rely solely on that ability. They refine their technique to maximize the distance they can achieve. They practice often because muscle memory is key to performance. And studies have shown their bodies adapt by developing stronger, denser thigh and shin bones so they can withstand the force of landing the jump. This is something average athletes simply cannot or do not want to do.

Triple jumper All-American Mike Lewis (’17) is one of those exceptional students; not only as an athlete, but as a senior criminal justice major who is planning a career few aspire to. His friends thought he was a natural to become a police officer. Mike says that was his goal as a child. But after completing an internship this winter with the Kansas Department of Corrections in Olathe, he’s confirmed his choice. He wants to become a parole officer.

After applying for the position, passing the background check and submitting several recommendations, Mike was asked to shadow parole officers in meetings with offenders, sit in on self-defense and case management training and learn the daily life of a parole officer. He was exposed to all kinds of cases in varied venues; meeting offenders in the office, in various prison settings and in their homes or at their jobs. Each case was different and Mike soon learned that parole officers fulfill a variety of roles and need to be flexible while observing the law and best practices of their profession.

“It gave me different perspectives on the job and I got a lot of good career advice from the officers,” he says. “They were surprised at how well I reacted to different situations. I just took it all in.”

As he approaches graduation Mike is excited about the many job openings his contacts at the parole office have shared with him.

“I have a lot of options,” he adds with a smile.

Mike says his MNU experience has been full of opportunity. He feels blessed to have competed in track & field under the coaching of MNU Head Coach Nate Wiens. Wiens was his former coach at the University of California at Riverside and recruited Mike to transfer to MNU. The change in location and university was the right path.

“Now I see that God was putting the right opportunity in my path. Every time I had the chance to go the wrong way, He helped me choose the right way.”

Mike says his small group at Heartland Community Church in Olathe has been key to this realization. It seems to him that each time they meet, God reveals another aspect of what he has been learning in school, in his internship, in sports and in his personal life.

In another way that Mike shows he’s exceptional, he has chosen to miss his own commencement because he will be competing in the Heart of America Athletic Association Outdoor Championships in Iowa, with his teammates May 5 and 6. It’s a lot to give up, but he says it’s the right choice.

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