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Source: University of Otago

Recent IT intern, student Keiran Patel, in his element.
A new IT internship programme is giving students the chance to work fulltime on one of the largest networks in the country – Otago University’s – while also helping recruit staff.
Most interns come from computer science or information science, though they can be from any discipline, and work fulltime for a year, IT Infrastructure Head Wallace Chase says.
Afterwards, they must return to complete their studies and graduate before they can be employed fulltime again.
The programme is structured that way so students remain focussed on the importance of completing their education because “some do get pretty excited about earning,” Mr Chase says.
Replicating success
As interns, the students get intensive on-the-job training and credits for a paper they write about their experiences.
Mr Chase introduced the IT internships last year, leveraging off the Otago Business School’s existing internship platform.
He had run similarly successful programmes for about 20 interns annually at Clemson University in South Carolina. After they graduated, many joined his network technology team, where about 60 per cent of the staff ended up being graduates who had been hired fulltime.
“Virtually our entire security operations team and network technician team were students, with a full-timer supervising them,” Mr Chase says. “I’m looking to replicate that to some level here with this programme.”
Hiring success
The overall goal at Otago is to start tackling nationwide shortages of IT professionals by building a ‘pipeline’ of people with these skillsets because junior staff can do many network tasks.
Mr Chase would rather hire very capable students because “they not only earn a good pay cheque for a year, they’re also eminently employable”.
The three interns in the programme last year have since been hired to keep working part-time this year and another three students have completed the internship this year.
Recent intern Keiran Patel is grateful for the hands-on experience – he believes it helped him gain a deeper insight and knowledge of networking and cyber security pathways.
“I got a behind-the-scenes picture of how the University of Otago operates which has given me a better understanding of IT career pathways and helped significantly with the planning of my career,” Keiran says.
“My biggest take away from this experience would be the long-term relationships and connections that I had made with my fellow colleagues as well as the experience gained while working there.”