Computer Science students Zach Knight and Dylan Hildebrand of Minot will head back to college this fall with new insight into their chosen career field.
Knight, a senior at North Dakota State University, and Hildebrand, a junior at Minot State University, spent their summer developing a computer application for InfoTech that will convert part of the company’s operation from paper to electronic technology.
They will complete the 12-week internship Friday with a presentation on the project before company officials from Minot and New York City.
“I never thought we could do something of this magnitude going into it so I am very happy with what we did,” Knight said.
Hildebrand added there were days when the project seemed so frustrating that they just wanted to quit and go home. But they put their heads together, solved problems and saw their hard work pay off.
“This was really cool to be working on something that people will actually use,” Hildebrand said.
Their project involved developing the iTracker, a program that enables technology service staff to electronically log their service reports rather than filling out paper copies. By early July, the interns had a program for staff to begin using while they worked out bugs and continued to develop new program functions. When finished, the program will allow service staff to enter information using their smartphone Blackberries.
Heidi Dammen, software developer at InfoTech an intern supervisor, said the young men had a good turnaround time in developing a workable product, and with few initial bugs.
The end product is one that the company’s information technology manager had been requesting for some time, she said. Internal applications often get pushed aside by the needs of clients, so having two interns who could take on the neglected task has been important in getting the project done, she said.
Mac Magaster, chief of operations at Minot Technology Center, said the company had various reasons for creating the internship, including the desire to build a potential employee pool for technology jobs like those at InfoTech.
“We want to be a part of this community. We want to build a relationship with the university. We are always looking to hire,” Magaster said. “To have that link between the university and InfoTech so that the students are aware that there are opportunities in Minot for what they are studying is a plus and a benefit for everybody.”
InfoTech participated in the North Dakota Commerce Department’s Operation Intern, which enabled the company to provide a paid internship for which students also can receive college credits. The company worked with Minot State University to develop a program that would meet the requirements for college credit at the different schools.
“It’s a well-planned out program. That’s to the benefit of our students,” said Deanna Klein, associate professor in the College of Business at MSU, who assisted InfoTech in researching the credit requirements.
Klein said students who intern are a step ahead of other students when it comes to job placement after graduation.
“It was a win-win for everyone for the college, for the students, for InfoTech,” Magaster said. “This was such a great opportunity to see those two gentlemen grow over the last 12 weeks. This was an invaluable experience. I think they have a different perspective on everything they thought they knew.”
Knight said it was a new experience to work on a project that had to meet an end user’s satisfaction and would actually be employed and not just work long enough to be graded before it’s discarded. He’ll not look at his college projects quite the same from now on.
“I am going to be more of a perfectionist when it comes to my work,” he said.
Hildebrand said many students choose college majors without having a real knowledge of whether they are going to like the field once they get a job. He feels he now has a good understanding, and he’s definitely interested in working in computer science.
That teamwork associated with the job is something the interns came to value. Initially, Dammen was there to help when they needed her expertise, but they learned that by working together, they could solve most of their problems.
“At the beginning, we were like, ‘How are we going to do this?’ At the end, we both thought we did it so much quicker than we thought we were going to,” Knight said. “Whenever one of us would get stuck, the other person would come and we would work on it together.”
Working eight hours a day also was a change for the students, who previously had thought sitting down and writing computer code for a hour was a long time. The interns were pleasantly surprised to get their own office, telephone and e-mail accounts. They also grew accustomed over the summer to the office environment, including the dress code.
“I am very good at tying ties now,” Knight said.
InfoTech is taking applications from college juniors and seniors for a fall internship program. Interns will work 20 hours a week. Students can obtain applications from their computer science professor or at InfoTech, located in the Wells Fargo building in downtown Minot.
InfoTech Solutions for Business, Inc. (InfoTech) is a privately owned software house and system integration company with a variety of products, IT services and business practices. Headquartered in midtown Manhattan, with satellite offices in the U.S. only, InfoTech is a Microsoft Certified Partner and GSA approved contractor with multiple credentials and certifications. The company’s clients include some of the most prestigious banks, media companies, government agencies, and small to mid-size companies representing a wide range of industries. Additional information can be found at www.infotechfb.com or by contacting InfoTech at (212)245-4222.