Solomon Staggs, a senior computer science and mathematics student, talks about his summer internship with IBM.
Who are you interning with and what is your job title?
I’m doing a paid internship at IBM's Silicon Valley Lab in San Jose, California. My official title is Co-op/Intern Programmer in the DB2 z/OS Partner Integration Center.
What’s an average day at your internship?
My team works in three different areas: testing, client support, and special projects. However, as an intern I focus on special projects, or tasks that benefit and assist others in my team. We have meetings on Monday and Tuesday, where we discuss updates to different tasks that people are assigned; it's a way for us to be on the same page every week. I am responsible for completing three things by the end of the internship: presenting a new database tool to the team, writing test cases to assist in testing our software, and learning a computer language to create those test cases. We get to choose our own hours, but most choose a typical 8-4 p.m. or 9-5 p.m. schedule.
What makes this internship fun or interesting?
The fact that I'm working for such a large, high profile company makes it fun and interesting. There is a very competitive structure at IBM: the better you do the more you will be rewarded, and, the worse you do the higher the chance of you being laid off. This means that you can work as little or as much as you want (as long as you don't go over 40 hours per week for hourly paid employees like interns) as long as you complete the tasks you are assigned. This differs quite a bit from my other internship and is on the other hand similar to the college dynamic.
What's the most challenging part?
Trying to integrate myself into the team to be an effective member and contribute as much as I can is the most challenging. While I do have some experience with this since I've interned at another tech and programming company, it does differ significantly from the college dynamic.
What knowledge and skills are you developing?
Learning new tools and computer languages would probably fall under the "knowledge" category. These tools are proprietary and can't be used outside IBM or without compensating them in some way, so learning new tools and computer languages would be “skills” as well since these things will help in recognizing how to solve problems and work more efficiently with other "new" tools. And—as is typical with programming jobs—I'm learning better communication and teamwork skills.
How did you hear about the internship?
The entire computer science department visited and toured IBM’s Silicon Valley Labs last April thanks in part to Isabel Withmory, a recent PUC mathematics graduate who is now employed full time at IBM and interned there last summer. She set up interviews for us with a couple of managers for the summer intern position.
How does the internship relate to your career goals?
I haven't yet decided what kind of programming I want to do. This will be my second summer internship; it allows me to get a broad view of what's currently available and what employers and companies are looking for.
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