Review of the 2008 ExploreRochesterIT Summer Rotational Intern Program

Over fifty applied, forty-two were interviewed, but only fourteen were selected to participate in this year’s Explore Rochester IT Summer Intern Rotational Exposure program. This unique experience offers first and second year college students in IT programs at Rochester area colleges an opportunity to shadow and work alongside IT professionals at different companies during the summer.

Students from Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Brockport, St John Fisher,University of Rochester, and Monroe Community College were partnered and then rotated through three of the participating Rochester companies; Bausch &Lomb, Energy East, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Kodak, Rochester Institute of Technology, Paychex, and Wegmans, spending three weeks at each location.

At a recent gathering celebrating the culmination of the program, Tony Tardugno, CIO of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, thanked the students for their exceptional work and the feedback that they provided to the respective companies throughout their summer program. He asked that the participants encourage their peers to participate in the program in the future,as well as attend the fall symposium, and to spread the word about the great IT opportunities within the Rochester area.

Tony’s welcome was followed by an opportunity for the other CIO’s and the program advisors from the participating companies to ask questions of the student interns and get feedback about the Explore RochesterIT program.

John Messersmith, a sophomore IT student from Monroe Community College learned about the intern program at the Fall Symposium last year. He was impressed that the CIOs of all of these great companies took the time to be there and meet with students. He was also impressed that something that big could be pulled together by all of these disparate companies.

The internship program helped cement the decision to pursue a Computer Science degree for one student. Cameron Fiederer, a freshmen Computer Science student from Rochester Institute of Technology found that the rotational program provided him an opportunity to try things out and get real experience working alongside an application developer. This experience only made him more interested in this type of work in the future.

The internship program helped some of the students determine their future directions. Neither Emily Lapp, a junior Applied Information Technology student at St. John Fisher College, nor Matthew Byrnes, a sophomore Computer Science student at SUNY Brockport had any idea of what they wanted to do in IT before their participation in the program. After 9 weeks of seeing all different types of IT positions, each had a better idea of where to focus.Emily is interested in pursuing web design and Matthew wants to be a DBA (database administrator). Working along IT professionals in these fields helped them see the types of work involved and make these important decisions.

Other students talked about the biggest surprises in their experience. Jessica Peters, a sophomore Software Engineering student from Rochester Institute of Technology said that these companies were the “hidden gems” of Rochester. Other students expressed surprise at the amount of IT security at various companies and also at the size and strength of the IT teams. Many students originally thought that working in IT meant working for IT companies,like Microsoft and Google. Now they realize that every company and business needs IT to support its mission.

Another great benefit from the program is having the opportunity to meet and talk with IT staff at all levels of the company. Alissa Shields, a sophomore IT student at Monroe Community College was impressed with the accessibility of the CIOs and IT staff and was impressed that she had the opportunity to give a presentation about her experience at the end of each rotation to the CIO of the company.

The spirit of the program was best expressed by Martin Georgiev, a freshmen Computer Science student from SUNYBrockport, when he stated “I’ll remember this forever.”

Dan Canzano, CIO of Paychex, closed the session with a reminder that these young minds are the future of our Rochester-area businesses. These young people are what will help us grow, serve our community and ultimately serve our businesses.