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UIT interns snag jobs at Disney, GM, and more

By Emily Rushton

Most college students have one goal in mind after graduation: to be hired by a successful company.

USS interns

For students interning at UIT’s University Support Services (USS), that goal can easily become a reality.

USS has a track record of hiring bright, talented students into its internship program and giving them a variety of experience – experience that, in many cases, has led to job offers from companies like Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Fusion-io, Mindshare Technologies and Disney.

“We’re getting a really good bang for our buck,” said Dan Thornley, Associate Director for USS’s Quality Assurance division. “We’re getting the creativity and the new ways of thinking that often times we don’t have, and in return they get to build their resumé, develop some skills and get real-world experience.”

The team tries to give its interns a range of responsibilities: interns will help deploy products out to production, do product testing, be part of Agile development teams, and take turns running the weekly team meeting.

“We try to arrange to get them into any kind of training or career-enhancement stuff that we can,” said Thornley. “We do everything we can to give them real-world experience and not just limit it to one thing.”

Interns are also encouraged to be creative and share their ideas. “They’ve come up with some really good solutions that we normally wouldn’t have thought of,” said Thornley. “They’ve got fresh ideas, different views and perspectives.”

USS interns

The internship program has been so successful that Chief Information Officer Eric Denna asked USS to develop an intern on-boarding Canvas course so that other departments could benefit from it. One of USS’s own interns, Ryan Bennett, developed the course.

“It’s basically intern on-boarding documents that have been put into this Canvas course,” said Thornley. “We used our documents to customize it for us, but it could be unique to any group that uses it.”

The course was presented to the UIT leadership team last month. “They really liked it,” said Thornley. “They were very impressed.”

Bennett has since accepted a job offer from General Motors, and credits USS in giving him the experience that landed the job. "They taught me the skills and gave me the opportunity to make something like this possible," he said. "I'm thankful that I pursued a job at UIT."

If other UIT departments are interested in starting their own internship programs, Thornley says his team is happy to consult. “We’re more than willing to help out.”

Last Updated: 4/13/21