UC Santa Barbara Information Technology is offering six year-long internships to college students, giving them the opportunity for employment in an uncertain job market with a salary of $15 per hour.

The internship will be offered in the 2020-2021 academic year and students from any major are welcome to apply. / Daily Nexus

Current UCSB first, second and third-year undergraduates of any major may apply for the internships on Handshake. The internships will focus students on UCSB-wide development and implementation of Salesforce, JupyterHub, data, cloud, library and web services. Six applicants will then be selected after applications close on June 1.

Lisa Klock, the process innovation program manager of the College of Letters & Science Information Technology (I.T.) department, explained that a visit to Westmont College in Santa Barbara served as a major catalyst for the internships. In observing Westmont I.T. interns, she noted that “it [was] extraordinary what the students are capable of” as they worked alongside faculty.

Klock stressed that UCSB’s internships are open to anyone “who’s really wanting this” and that they’re “not just looking for the coder.” All majors, she said — including humanities and social sciences majors — who demonstrate creativity, motivation and “a desire to learn something new” are welcome to apply.

“Explore, dream and discover,” Klock summarized. “Coding can be taught.”

Although interns will be positioned in different departments and will be working with different sets of software, Klock said that students will still meet regularly to share their progress, talk about their experiences and present their work to administrators. The objective is to foster a sense of camaraderie among all six interns and prepare them for the “real world,” she said. 

Chief among the program’s considerations, Klock said, is to increase student involvement on campus and to “keep these students working for the UC and inside the UC family.”

“We only have what is known as ‘one deep’ structures in many of our IT operations,” Matthew Hall, associate vice chancellor for I.T. and chief information officer of UCSB, said in an email. “If a person leaves, it leaves a skills and capabilities gap.”

The solution is to “immerse students in I.T. culture,” Klock said. That involves having undergraduates with full administrative privileges directly creating and editing the school’s digital infrastructure, she added.

“It’s a win-win,” Hall said. “Employers benefit by lowering the burden of on-boarding well-qualified candidates. And the interns are equipped with practical skill in a high demand field.” Another benefit, he said, would come in the form of “a potential pool of future employees” for the UC.

At first, the coronavirus put a wrench in the internship plans, but staff members adapted the internship training in order to keep them on pace with the original schedule.

“The pandemic struck the same month we sent out the application,” Rebecca Carroll, the technical project manager at Enterprise Technology Services, said. As a result, the I.T. department was forced to adapt the program relatively quickly during its shift to working remotely.

Carroll explained that internship training will be conducted throughout the summer, through either Zoom meetings or all-expenses-paid online courses like LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight and the UCSB Learning Center.

For interns who may not have ready access to a device of their own, Carroll said, the department will provide them with laptops, with all of the necessary software pre-installed.

Come fall quarter, Klock hopes that students will be able to physically work at the offices on campus “once everything opens up again.” In the meantime, she said her priorities include clear communication and assignments for interns and making sure that “the student is happy in their needs.”

The results from this year’s pilot internships will inform the next year’s, Klock said, and in the coming years, her goal is to expand the program across the entire UC system.