IT Interns Reap Rewards at the University

A variety of ongoing internship programs at the University have given college and high school students the opportunity to explore information technology careers and gain valuable experience working in higher education.

Up-and-coming young professionals can participate in one of four internship programs and work in IT service areas throughout the University, including Arts, Sciences and Engineering; the Medical Center; the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development; and University IT.

College Internship Program

Associate CIO John Barden has been guiding the college internship program focused on information technology since 2006. During this 10-week summer program, up to a dozen paid interns engage in hands-on activities to help develop new skills—both technical and professional—linking classroom learning with practical experience. They come from the University of Rochester and other area schools, such as Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), SUNY colleges at Brockport and Geneseo, and the University of Buffalo.

Interns meet with IT professionals and take part in professional development events, including presentation, interview, and resume workshops.  Interns actively participate in projects and are expected to provide deliverables based on their assigned duties.  Previous interns have held a variety of roles, from web developers to technical writers, network technicians to graphic designers.  The program wraps up in August with a poster session that is open to the University’s IT community, giving interns the opportunity to discuss their work and offer service recommendations to the IT organization.

This internship program has proven beneficial for both interns and supervisors. Steve Crusan, a 2009 intern from RIT, explained, “My internship experience with the Center for Research Computing was an overwhelming success, for both myself and my department.  The top-notch technology available taught me about high performance computing in an interactive and collaborative environment unlike any classroom at my college.”

Zach Roth, a Medical Center project director who has supervised an intern for the past two summers, is also pleased with the program’s outcomes. “Our [2009] participating intern did a great job applying his computer programming and problem-solving skills to help us visualize the complex community of our researchers [through the electronic curriculum vitae (eCV) project], all while learning about our industry and institution.”

The program has been a resounding success: of the 27 interns who have completed the program since it began five years ago, ten participants were hired into positions here at the University after their internships ended.

Explore Rochester IT

Also a paid summer internship for college students, three pairs of freshman and sophomore students are recruited by an outside committee, then interviewed and selected by Wegmans to rotate through participating Rochester-area companies.  During three weeks at the University, these interns experience the many ways IT supports the University’s missions.

This high-level program draws from several area schools, such as Alfred and Syracuse Universities.  It is intended to be largely informational as interns meet with a range of IT professionals and tour the campus and many University facilities, including the primary data center and the Rush Rhees Library tower.

“I learned a lot about myself, everything from what I want in a work environment, where I want to be in IT, and even how to progress my career and future,” said Samantha Mitchell, a 2010 Explore Rochester IT intern and student from Monroe Community College.

High School Internship Program

This paid internship, which sponsors high school juniors and seniors over six weeks in the summer, shows students first-hand the tangible benefits of furthering their education and entering the working world.  They tour the University, explore IT careers here, attend IT staff events, and receive assistance with applying to college.  At the end of their internship, they write reflective essays about what they learned from their experiences.

The program began in 2010 with one intern from Edison Technical High School in the Rochester City School District.  This summer’s recruiting process has already begun, according to Berthenia Coltrane, one of the program’s coordinators and Manager of the Student Help Desk.

Lawrence King, the program’s first intern who will return as a mentor for this year’s intern, said he learned that “With hard work and dedication comes a great deal of success.”

Hillside Work-Scholarship Program

Students at the Hillside Children’s Center can participate in this year-round paid internship and gain on-the-job experience by working alongside IT professionals at the University of Rochester.  The goal is to encourage these at-risk high school students to see the importance of studying to achieve their educational goals and its relationship to future success in the working world.

This program began in 2010 with one intern with the intention of growing the University’s connection to Hillside over time.