The Computer Science Department was the first in the Faculty of Science to have students go on Industry Internship, and our internship program has been operating successfully since 1989! Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about our Industy Internship program:
Industry Internship is Western's alternative to the co-op programs found at some other universities. A student on Industry Internship spends an extended period of time, typically 12 to 16 months, formally employed by a company which provides work experience directly related to the student's academic program and career objectives.
An internship is normally taken between the third and fourth years of a student's studies. Participation in the program is optional, but has proven to be popular with our students and with potential employers. (In recent years, we have had more internship positions advertised than students available to fill the need!)
Companies such as IBM who have participated extensively in both internship and traditional co-op programs, tell us that they prefer internships: interns come to the job with more formal Computer Science background than most co-op students, and the length of an internship allows the company to give interns the training they need and to assign them to projects just as with regular employees. As a result, internships provide students with a more accurate view of software careers than do shorter co-op programs.
The benefits of an internship are many!
One Student's Story: Meet Jules Cote, who went on an Internship with a London, Ontario gaming company in 2009.
Here are some quotes from other Western Computer Science Interns:
Ryan Dagg, Intern at RIM, Waterloo
"Getting this opportunity to complete a sixteen month placement and partake in important roles was fantastic! It taught me a lot about the work force, computers and myself."
Kate Zyla, Intern at OUAC (Ontario Universities' Application Centre)
"My managers made sure that I was prepared for the type of work I would be doing, and that I felt comfortable doing it. Through several online courses and the tutorials and webinars I attended during my first couple of months on the job, I became much more confident in my abilities."
Dave Corbett, intern at IBM Software Group, Markham Labs
"I heartily encourage all Computer Science students to consider enrolling in the Science Internship program. It provides an opportunity to experience a real-world work environment for those who may not have such experience, and it has allowed me to apply my skills to real, complex and challenging problems."
Patrick Carnegie, Intern at RIM, Waterloo
"RIM has provided me with a really great experience. I've learned a lot about teamwork and time management, and how to become an independent thinker. This internship gave me motivation to pursue software engineering more and to understand all the models required to successfully manage a team of many developers. In fact, I actually changed my minor from Applications to Software Engineering because of this internship, so I would say it really made a big impact on my future."
Jeff Shantz, Intern at IBM in Toronto
"In September 2008, I concluded a 16 month internship with IBM in Markham, Ontario, working on a technical marketing team to promote DB2 - IBM's flagship relational database server. Working at IBM was a fast-paced, exciting, and dynamic experience. I was held accountable for my work and never treated as just the intern. I was put into positions of responsibility and required to deliver.
However, I was also rewarded well for my hard work. I learned all about Linux, DB2, Ruby, and all sorts of other technologies that will serve me well in my career. I had the opportunity to design and implement a peer-to-peer distributed system from scratch. I was able to fly business class to the Netherlands, and travel to cities like San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Orlando. Perhaps most importantly, I got the chance to build up a large network of contacts within the industry, and I was able to refine my communications and interpersonal skills through meetings, presentations, and the various other liaisons that arise in the business world. In short, my internship gave me opportunities that school simply could not.
Internship will significantly increase your marketability and, in doing so, you will probably have some fun too. Employers want people with practical skills and knowledge, and that is exactly what you will get from the internship program. While an internship may delay your degree by a year, you will find that, coming out of school, you have better and more lucrative options available to you. Who knows? You may even have a job waiting for you after graduation in the company at which you completed your internship.
My time at IBM has been an immense learning experience and I am grateful for the opportunity that was provided to me. I feel as though I was particularly fortunate in the sense that I got a job with a highly productive team that travels the world and performs exciting work. Even though doing the internship has extended my career as a student by a year, I am happy to have more practical, real-world experience under my belt. After working at IBM, I would certainly advocate that all students participate in the internship program to help identify the type of work they wish to do, as well as to increase their competitiveness when applying for employment after graduation."