By: Jillian Stadig
There is a lot that goes on behind the haze of second hand smoke at the casino. Nichols College senior RJ Travisano was given the opportunity to see the workings of the Casino from a new perspective through his summer 2013 internship with Internal Security at Mohegan Sun. Throughout the summer, RJ learned not only about what it takes to run a casino safely but also how the security team works together to ensure the safety of both themselves and patrons.
How does a college student find an internship opportunity like this one? In RJ’s case, networking worked in his favor. After telling Professor Charbonneau, head of the Nichols College Criminal Justice Program, that he did not want to do a “normal” police department internship, she made a call to someone in her network that works at Mohegan Sun. One successful interview later, RJ was offered the internship position as part of the internal security team. Although the position was unpaid the amount of knowledge and networking opportunities RJ gained was well worth it. Some events RJ experienced through his internship included detaining a panhandler, seeing a person ejected for stealing a tip cup, and recognizing counterfeit money.
Working with the internal security team at Mohegan Sun RJ learned the ins and outs of the casino. An important part of his job was “learning the language and codes the officers used in their daily routines,” as well as learning the different locations and zones around the casino and their importance. Throughout the summer RJ shadowed a number of different members of the security team, many of them being either ex-military or ex-police force. One of the more exciting things RJ had the opportunity to do was work the “swing shift” meaning he was on duty until midnight, the busy hours for the casino. Considering most special events occur at night, this is an important time where a variety of different things could happen. RJ worked the swing shift on a night that a Glo event was going on. Glo is a popular event among young adults that, in this case, involved a pool party with brightly lit colors. On the same night there was also a popular concert and the regular Mist dance party occurring. Because there was so much going on in one night RJ experienced how important it was to tighten up security. Celebrity appearances at the Glo party required extra security, crowd control was necessary for the concert, and of course, the table games needed the necessary protection as well.
One of the most “interesting” times RJ had over the summer was the night that he worked the grave shift. For this shift he worked with dispatch, which in a sense controls the way the casino works. Almost everything security does must first go through dispatch. Access to many different areas of the casino must be given by dispatch. RJ learned that it is essentially the job of dispatch to make sure security and the casino itself runs smoothly.
Working with the Mohegan Sun internal security team gave RJ the experience of working with a security team that handles a number of different tasks, all with high levels of importance. Depending on the day of the week the security team consisted of anywhere from around 30 to 60 officers and supervisors dispersed around the casino areas. He worked closely with supervisors and investigators on cases of cheating, counterfeit money and drug trafficking. RJ learned that some drug traffickers use the casino as a way to trade “dirty” money for “clean” money. Working with internal security gave him a greater understanding of the Criminal Justice field. There are many jobs other than police work that many students are not aware of. RJ’s tip for other students looking to do an internship, “make sure you’re doing something you want to do and always make sure you’re having fun with it.”