Interview with Victim Services Internship Coordinator

Recently, I sat down with Tami Sanchez, Pima County Attorney’s Office volunteer and internship coordinator to learn more about their Victim Service internship program. I am part of the organization’s volunteer program, and as a volunteer crisis advocate for three years, I was eager to learn more about the internship program! Tami was very helpful in sharing more information about this excellent opportunity.

Before we get into some of the Q&A of the internship interview,I’ll share some background about Victim Services: Victim Services (VS) is a program where victims of crime are supported by advocates who help them process recent traumas, provide information on needed resources, help navigate the legal atmosphere they may encounter, and support victims through a difficult point in their lives. The program has a combination of a team of employees, volunteers, and interns who can be dispatched throughout Pima County to support victims of crime and people who may have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. Given that advocates can work in court or in a field setting, the opportunity to be an intern or a volunteer advocate can allow a wealth of information and experience for those interested in law, legal, and in counseling backgrounds. Additionally, the program is helpful for anyone who wants to build top-notch communication skills under pressure.

Okay, now, let’s learn about what the VS internship opportunity is like!

  1. What does the time commitment look like for interns?

    • Training commitment:

      Similar to the outline for training for a volunteer advocate there is a basic training period of six weeks. This season the training occurred on Tuesday nights from 6:00-9:00 pm. During training, prospective interns will have a ride along with two established advocates and can shadow advocates if they are interested in working in a court atmosphere rather than in the field. After basic training, if prospective interns feel like this opportunity is a fit for them there are 12 weeks of advanced training. For volunteers, there was a choice to be trained in advanced courses in either crisis or court advocacy. It is important to keep in mind that it may be better to do the training the semester prior to the internship as it is a big commitment. It might be possible in discussing with your school’s department head or your advisor to receive credits for the training portion of the internship.

      I did training in 2020 during the same time from 6:00-9:00 pm, and the training was very informative. Advocates came to help us build skills and share their experiences. The classes included topics such as safety training, how trauma affects the brain, and information on cultural awareness. Advanced training was more in-depth on what to expect in the field or in court and touched on topics like navigating the city, police codes, and information on further resources that can help with trauma. The overall training includes information on how to help victims of various crime types which can range from domestic violence to robbery.

    • Internship commitment:

      The required time commitment for the internship is for a year with a minimum of 20 hours per month.

  2. What is the structure of the internship?

    • Court Interns:

      Court interns will choose a morning from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm to meet during the week in the Victim Services office. The day would begin with looking at their court calendar, then going to court which can be a 2-4 hour session, and then end with administering duties. Administering duties includes answering phone calls from victims who need resources and support. You may be expected to give telephonic surveys to victims to determine the quality of service they experienced with field and court advocates.

    • Crisis Interns:

      Crisis Interns will encounter three shift types that they can choose and then schedule on a calendar. There is the evening shift from 5:30pm-10:30pm, a day shift from 6:00am-5:30pm, and a night shift from 10:30pm to 5:30am. As a volunteer and a student, I typically schedule myself for day shifts on the weekend though sometimes an evening is necessary if the calendar fills up. Crisis interns will work with a partner and wait to be dispatched to calls around Pima County. When dispatched they will travel to the scene of the crime and advocate for the victim. Afterward, there will be some paperwork to fill out.
  1. What are the benefits of the internship?

    • Credits:

      First, the time you take during the internship is compensated through credits. The credit amount would be discussed with your advisor or department head. Given the time commitment, you’d most likely earn 3-4 credits.

    • Skills:

      The internship is great for a criminal justice perspective and understanding. You would encounter legal terms and learn about the police and court setup. Being involved as a court advocate would be great for understanding and getting a leg up on prosecution terms as a lot of Latin is used in the legal field. So, for individuals interested in a future in law, this type of advocacy may be more beneficial.

      Basic skills you would develop in this role would include communication skills, crisis management, quick navigation, and informational relay. These skills can translate to many different areas, especially in future careers that have an emphasis on communication. You will also become certified in crisis intervention.

    • Exposure and Networking:

      The experience exposes you to a lot of Tucson and Pima County. You will learn about legal resources, the police system, the dispatch system, and different Pima County communities. It’s helpful for networking because if interns would like a job in the police or court system they can develop contacts who would be a resource when inquiring about Tucson jobs and to learn if that sort of work is right for them. In court advocacy, you will engage with prosecutors, and bailiffs, and become familiar with different judges. Interns are also paired with an advocate mentor. Networking can also be helpful for future recommendations for positions in the legal, police and social services world.

  2. Understandably some of the duties of this internship could be emotionally taxing, what is the support system like?

    There will be check-ins. Tami Sanchez, Victim Services Internship and Volunteer coordinator, will check in on the interns’ mental and emotional well-being. Interns are asked about any triggers to trauma exposure and strategies and precautions are put in place. The program wants to anticipate any triggers to be able to help interns develop coping skills and be able to help them process. There are debriefs and training on coping skills.
    In my experience, Victim Services can be very good at checking in after tough calls. The system of advocates, your mentor, and your partner on the scene act as a great support system and resource.
  1. Are interns hired as full-time advocates later on?

    Yes! Interns would have an advantage with the application process since they have trained with Pima County, and there are some interns and volunteers who have become paid full-time advocates.

  2.  What are the requirements to apply for the position?

    To apply to the internship you would have attended an information session, finished training, and contacted Tami Sanchez, Victim Services Internship and Volunteer coordinator, after training to confirm that you are applying.
    Typically, after reaching out and expressing interest, a resume, references, and a cover letter are requested.

  3. When can someone apply for the internship?

    You can apply anytime by reaching out. Training occurs in the fall and Spring, and students would need to attend the required informational session. For fall applicants, the informational session is held in August with training beginning in September. For Spring applicants, the informational session is held in January and training begins in February.

    That concludes the information I learned about the Pima County Victim Service Internship Program!

    If you are interested and want to learn more or express that you would like to apply to this valuable opportunity you can contact Tami Sanchez at (520) 724-5534: or
By Helene Brown
Helene Brown