No matter what field you are studying, the importance of internships cannot be understated. Internships allow students a gateway to the real world and an opportunity to get practical experience in an area that could one day turn into a career. This is especially true in the fields of computing and technology as not only do internships give students hands-on experience with what they are studying, but they also open doors for future employment.
Chestnut Hill College has always prioritized the student experience as one that promotes growth and a pathway to success. It is for that reason that all students in the Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) program at the College are required to complete at least one internship before they graduate. These internships can be offsite or onsite. Acknowledging that sometimes offsite internships lack the accessibility and flexibility students need, Chestnut Hill’s CSIT faculty have worked diligently to expand and enhance onsite internships that students can complete without having to leave campus.
Over the past summer, instructors Susan Ceklosky, M.S., and Andrea Wentzell M.A. guided five students who engaged in onsite internships with new community partners in the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, La Salle University, Holy Cross Parish, and Saint Raphaela Center.
“One of the things these new expanded opportunities provide is developing that end collateral,” says Wentzell, who graduated from CHC in 2015. “It is the idea that students themselves are taking projects from start to launch, whether it be applications on the app stores or fully launched websites.”
Unlike classroom projects which are designed with certain teachable goals in mind, these internships allow students the chance to interact and interface with real world clients, ultimately creating a product that will be used by the organization. Take for example the internship that students Al Algheraibi ‘23, Jacob Elam ‘24, and Ron Fernandez ‘22 recently completed. The three worked together to create the Cognitive Game Day app, a project that came about due to a grant that CHC Assistant Professor of Psychology Joshua Fetterman, Ph.D., received alongside La Salle colleage Meredith Kneavel, Ph.D. The grant was awarded by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association. Kneavel and Fetterman’s proposal, The Cognitive Psychology Play Day Handbook: Resources for Problem Solving Activities, was one of five to receive the $1500 grant.
Carrying forth CHC’s mission of collaboration in interdisciplinary ways, Fetterman and Kneavel commissioned students in CSIT to build out the Cognitive Game Day app. Cognitive Game Day, which can be found on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, will be used by students attending La Salle, CHC, and other colleges to enhance their study of Psychology by allowing them to easily link to and play online Psychology games. This app is one of three that has recently been developed by the CSIT onsite internship program, including last year’s Countdown to Graduation (found on the Apple and Google Play Store) and LogueLink (found on the Apple and Google Play Store).
App development is not the only area where students have benefited from onsite internships. For those looking to pursue website design and development, onsite internships have provided a pathway for students to experience that process as well. Recently, students Faith Gray ‘22 and James Bachrach ‘23 worked on website redesign projects for Holy Cross Parish and the Saint Raphaela Center.
“The work over the summer was my first time working with WordPress so it was nice to learn software that is often used in this field,” says Gray, who worked with the Catholic community of Holy Cross to assist with a complete redesign of the parish’s website. “It was also nice building a website and seeing it out in the real-world versus in a classroom setting.”
These new internships and community partnerships are just a few that have been developed in recent years by the CSIT team. Included in this portfolio is work with organizations such as Brave Hearts for Strong Minds, W.E. Thrive, and The Baby Bureau, which was founded by CHC alumna, Fran Wasserman ‘11 SCPS.
“Onsite internships at CHC have been a big success and should be looked at as more than just a back-up plan for students,” says Ceklosky, who alongside Wentzell is continually searching for new project opportunities and partnerships for students.