The University of Oregon and Lane Community College are working together to pilot a new internship program that will place LCC students looking for on-the-job technical training at the UO.
The program is a joint effort between UO’s Information Services, the university’s central technology department, and LCC’s Cooperative Education (Co-op) program, a career-training curriculum that places students in internships with employers where they get hands-on instruction in fields ranging from energy management to computer networking.
“When I ask my students where they want to work,” said LCC Co-op Coordinator Gerry Meenaghan, “students regularly cite the University of Oregon as one of their top choices.”
Meenaghan, a UO alumnus, helps place science, computer science and engineering students in internships the world over. He says this isn’t the first time LCC students have interned at the UO, but it is the first attempt to officially connect his alma mater and the community college’s Co-op program.
"UO is known as a great place to work for its cutting-edge nature," Meenaghan said.
The pilot program has placed two LCC Computer Network Operations students in internships at IS Systems and Operations.
The program, which is supported by Melissa Woo, vice provost for Information Services and CIO, is expected to extend to the rest of the IS department at the university.
The program is not anticipated to be heavily used by departments that already employ UO student workers and graduate teaching fellows.
“It’s kind of a collaborative thing,” said Jeff Jones, IS Microsoft Windows team leader, who is currently supervising one of the new interns. “We try to find a middle ground that will benefit my team and the students.”
Like other Co-op interns, IS’s exchange workers have been placed with co-op supervisors who act as both managers and mentors. Co-op supervisors like Jones tailor the intern’s work experience to not only help teach the students the skills they’ll need for their degrees but also the skills they’ll need as employees at their internships.
Jones, an LCC alumnus himself, says working at the UO offers interns the opportunity to work with technology that’s not available in the classroom.
“I went through the same program,” said Jones, “so I look at it from the student’s perspective… There are huge benefits to the students because they’re going to get access to enterprise-level technology that is very difficult to get your hands on.”
“Our goal is to give them as much real-world experience as we can give them,” said Troy Knabe, IS Linux team leader and mentor to the pilot program’s other Co-op intern.
“I think it’s a real win-win for both our university and for Lane,” said Knabe. “And for the students it gives them that ability to make that transition from the classroom to an actual work environment.”
- by Nathan Gilles, UO Information Services