Information Technology (IT) students at Illinois State University seeking to satisfy their professional practice/internship requirement find valuable learning opportunities in a variety of interesting roles. The 107 IT students who completed for-credit internships during the summer of 2018 were no exception.

Sophomore cybersecurity major Allison Smith interned with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Cyber Division where she assisted with IT operations that directly support the unit’s investigations. Smith said when initially applying she felt she might be at a disadvantage as a sophomore, compared to juniors and seniors seeking the same opportunities. However, she was advised that her aptitude and drive were factors in her selection. “They have been incredible in getting me the resources to learn as I work and tailor what I work on to what my interests are,” Smith says of her experiences with the FBI. She aspires to become an FBI agent in the future.

Evan Banasiak, an information systems (IS)–systems development/analyst major planning to graduate in May 2019, interned with Kellermeyer Bergensons Services, a company that provides industrial services to companies across the United States and Canada. Banasiak worked for the commercial floor care division. That might seem unexpected, but his duties included collecting customer and business data in a database and employing business intelligence tools to analyze and visualize the data in a form that could be used by management to evaluate performance and identify potential new opportunities. Banasiak encourages IT students to seek an internship early as it is a “great learning experience that will show you what the real day-to-day is like working in IT.”

Junior computer science major Kevin Haas interned with Motorola Solutions, Inc., providing communications services to governmental agencies. Haas’s duties included development of a user interface to search a structured query language (SQL) database of historical information about past issues encountered during system upgrades and implementations to quickly identify solutions. In addition to gaining professional knowledge and experience that he also finds very helpful in his academic classes, the project afforded him the opportunity to give formal project presentations to the highest levels of management.

Patrick Strader, who will graduate in December 2018 with his B.S. in IS–systems development/analyst, interned as a mainframe programmer with Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, Iowa. He says he was apprehensive about spending his summer in an unfamiliar place far from home. Principal provided housing assistance and he was set up in an apartment. Once he was settled in and alone he said he “looked around and thought, how is this going to go?”. It went very well. In addition to discovering new professional opportunities, he took the opportunity to explore the area, including the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and local micro-breweries.

School of IT internship coordinator Tal Parmenter says, “I am very proud of the School’s commitment to preparing students to launch their professional career and the professional practice/internship experience is an integral part of that effort. The most frequent comment I hear from students is that the internship experience is one of the most valuable learning experiences of their academic career. IT opportunities can be found in all industries and all locations. I encourage students to cast a wide net in seeking internship opportunities.”