The benefits of doing an internship while you study computer science

Working in computer science is all about solving problems and a great way to get good at it is, unsurprisingly, to solve problems. Deakin’s Bachelor of Computer Science is a practical, real-world degree that helps expand your problem-solving skills and prepares you to work in a diverse range of industries.

You’ll use and build on technologies including big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Crucially, you’ll do this at university and in industry. How? One of the great opportunities that you’ll benefit from as part of the course is the work integrated learning (WIL) program, in which students undertake a hands-on, immersive internship in industry.

Get real-world experience

Deakin’s computer science students undertake internships everywhere from the big banks, utility providers, public institutions and multinational companies to schools, start-ups and SMEs. While they study computer science, some students work in pure IT firms while others complete computer science internships at companies where IT is an important means to interact with customers and other stakeholders.

It was a case of the latter for second-year student Daniel Reay, who has just completed a full-time, six-month internship with Australia Post as part of his computer science course.

‘I was in the information security, education and culture team, which looks after education and awareness for the public and the greater Australia Post workforce – first and foremost, keeping the organisation’s 70,000 employees safe online in terms of their emails and the websites they visit,’ he says.

Daniel spent the majority of his internship working on a cyber security chat-bot. ‘My role was writing up the content,’ he explains. ‘It will sit on Facebook Messenger and anyone in Australia can interact with it and be given tips about cyber safety and how to stay safe online, including scams to look out for.’

Enhance your career prospects

Daniel says the internship helped him apply classroom learnings in a real-world setting and means he will be better prepared for graduate employment – especially because Australia Post employed him part-time as an official member of the team after he completed the internship.

‘When you're studying, sometimes it's hard to grasp how that information can be applied in the real world until you've gone and done it,’ he says. ‘Having the opportunity to get my name out there in the industry in an established organisation before I graduate means that when the time comes that I'm looking for full-time work, I won’t be scrambling around and I've got a proper foundation that employers will be looking for.’

Mark Tolson, manager of the WIL program in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, agrees that one of the main benefits of the WIL program is enhanced employment prospects. ‘Students develop a larger network of professional contacts, better soft and technical skills, and add more value to employers because they can hit the ground running as soon as they graduate,’ he says.

In fact, Tolson says at a big global consulting firm a whopping 80% of last year’s graduate intake came from the pool of students who completed its summer internship program. ‘It shows that the employment cycle is starting earlier and graduates are being selected for roles earlier because they're undertaking practical, real-world placements,’ he says.

Earn credit towards your degree

To help graduates thrive in an increasingly competitive workplace, computer science internships are compulsory at Deakin. You’ll earn credit towards your degree and be able to customise your internship to fit in with your life.

‘Some students do their placement two days a week over 10 or 11 weeks, while others do a full-time placement for three, six or 12 months,’ Tolson says. ‘The flexibility is there for students to complete what's available and what meets their requirements.’

Finding the internship is part of the learning process, says Tolson: ‘You go through the process of developing and fine-tuning your resume and developing your interview skills. Because this learning experience is embedded into the course, it means graduates are better prepared for the world of work when they graduate.’

And Daniel’s advice for other students? ‘Don't think of work integrated learning as a job – think of it as something to help build your future,’ he says.

Inspired to solve problems and study computer science? Learn more about Deakin’s Bachelor of Computer Science.