What is an internship?
Practical experience in a formal work environment is a valuable aspect of a Computer Science or Computer Systems curriculum. The intent of the CS Internship program at Northern Michigan University is to provide students with an opportunity to earn academic credit while gaining work experience at a business, government, or other institutional computer center. Students are employed on a full-time basis typically for a four to eight month period. The hours, wages, and benefits associated with the job are determined by the employer prior to hiring the intern. Although tasks assigned to the student usually correspond to the student's educational background, new and exciting challenges may be encountered. Additional formal or informal training may be provided by the employer either on-site or off-site. Computer Science-related tasks, such as, network design and installation, software programming, testing, documentation, and user training would be considered as appropriate job duties for an intern.
Internships can be credit generating for the student (refer to the Syllabus for CS491-CS Internship for more requirements). In addition to providing a work experience for the student, the internship must also provide a learning environment where the student can gain technical skills in the field of computer science. The student must be working under a mentor or expert that can provide training and guidance to the student. A work environment where the student is the expert would not qualify as a valid CS Internship.
Employers will have their own set of requirements for interns. Usually, employers are looking for Junior or Senior level students since they have already had a majority of their college course work including many of their Computer Science classes. Normally, a student will need at least a 3.00 or better grade point average in order to qualify or interview for an internship. Employers interview potential interns, and then make the hiring decision. No student is guaranteed an internship position, but students with good academic records are usually placed.
Advantages and Responsibilities: Employer
Through the CS Internship Program, employers become familiar with students that are good candidates for permanent employment upon graduation. Students who have previously worked with the firm can be productive more quickly than those new to the company. In addition, interns may bring new tools and ideas into the work place, providing the company with ongoing education and increased productivity.
The employer will be responsible for providing a meaningful work experience for the student intern. Skills the student possesses should be utilized and developed by assignment to appropriate computer-related tasks. Supervision and guidance must be available to the student in a professional environment. The employer will sign monthly status reports written by the student in order to verify their accuracy. At the end of the internship period the employer will complete an evaluation of the student, including performance, strengths and weaknesses of the student, and any comments regarding the strength and validity of the CS academic program at Northern Michigan University. The CS Internship Supervisor should be contacted in the event that problems occur with the student.
Advantages and Responsibilities: Student
The internship experience allows the student to see their profession in a more realistic light. Working side-by-side with programmers, analysts, and computer users helps the student to develop a sense of responsibility and confidence in their abilities. Listing professional work experience on the resume helps the student secure employment after graduation. In some cases, students are offered employment by the company where they interned. Upon returning to classes after an internship, students tend to be more focused on their course work and show more interest in research.
During the internship, the student will be required to submit monthly status reports to the CS Internship Supervisor. These reports summarize the job duties and projects done during each monthly (or 4-week) period. Upon completion of the internship the student will be expected to compose a written report of their internship experience, including details of job duties and projects, as well as the benefits of the internship experience. Also, after completion of the internship, the student will be expected to make an oral presentation of about 20 minutes to a CS class. The topic of the presentation will relate to some part of the work experience and/or a topic of current study or interest as determined by the CS Internship Supervisor.
Prof. John W. Sarkela