Some Options for Summer Work in Computer Science

Author: Samuel A. Rebelsky

Version: 2014-12-04

This document summarizes selected summer opportunities for students interested in doing projects related to computer science and computing. It is not intended to be comprehensive; rather, it is intended to serve as a starting point to help you think about opportunities. In additional, while I strive for accuracy, I do not guarantee that any information in this document is accurate.

This document may be found on the Web at http://www.cs.grinnell.edu/~rebelsky/Department/cs-summer.html and http://www.cs.grinnell.edu/~rebelsky/Department/cs-summer.pdf

This document is certainly not the only resource available to you. Here are some other useful sites:

I would also recommend that you talk to the Center for Careers, Life, and Services. You should also explore their online information about internships. I recommend that even if you don't get an internship (or don't get an internship through CLS), you take advantage of the tools they provide for reflecting on internships, since they can help you reflect on any summer opportunity.

You may also find it useful to fill out my simple form for analyzing summer opportunities., available at http:/www.cs.grinnell.edu/~rebelsky/Department/cs-summer-analysis.html.

Contents:

A Few Preliminaries

I hear from alums who have gone to industry and academe and from potential employers that it is increasingly difficult to get good CS-related jobs (after your graduate) without significant extracurricular experiences. Summer provides one such opportunity, but you should also consider working on an open-source project or other significant project, such as what the AppDev team does. I hear from some alums that it's important to have at least one off-campus experience.

Getting a good opportunity requires work. You'll need to spend time identifying potential opportunities (talking to people, calling, emailing, searching on Google, etc.). You'll need to spend time developing a strong application.

Warning! Deadlines for many programs are typically in early February. You should plan to apply to research programs and start building your application portfolio during Winter break.

Warning! While deadines are in early February, many places don't post opportunities until early January. You will need to check sites a few times and may have to follow up with electronic mail.

International students: Some choices for summer work have visa implications. You should talk to Karen Edwards asap about your plans so that she can help you navigate the paperwork and meet deadlines.

Set Your Goals

As you investigate summer opportunities, you should consider your goals (both short term and long term). In particular, you should consider what you hope to get from the summer. Do you want to learn more about the discipline? Do you want to exercise your skills? Do you want to investigate a possible career? Do you just want to make money? Do you want to escape from Grinnell? Do you want to experience how Grinnell is different in the summer? Do you want to program or do you want to explore a different side of computing? Do you want to build up your resume to get a particular opportunity the following summer?

To help you meet your goals, I've tried to note some particular advantages and disadvantages of each kind of program.

Use Winter Break Well!

Many of the best opportunities have deadlines very early in spring semester. You should try to get your applications done, or at least started, over winter break. You might also use winter break to help make yourself a more attractive candidate.

Additional Notes

On Campus Opportunities

Research With Grinnell CS Faculty

Advantages

Disadvantages

Potential Contacts: Janet Davis, davisjan@cs.grinnell.edu

Note that not all faculty will be offering summer opportunities. There will be a talk in early spring about these opportunities. Right now, Dr. Davis may be the only member of the department who is taking summer students. If Dr. Rebelsky takes summer students, they will likely only be students who have previously worked with him and who he can trust to work on their own.

Student Assistant MathLAN Administrator

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contacts: John David Stone, stone@cs.grinnell.edu

Work With Grinnell Mathematics/Statistics Faculty

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contact: Shonda Kuiper, kuipers@math.grinnell.edu, Chair of Mathematics and Statistics, should have a list of Math faculty who will be supervising summer MAPs; Jeff Blanchard, blanchj@grinnell.edu, may be supervising a programming-oriented MAP. Again, more details will be available in early spring.

Work With Other Grinnell Faculty

Increasingly, disciplines outside of computer science make such use of computing and algorithmic approaches that it behooves faculty to hire research assistants who are competent programmers. There have been some interesting projects in digital humanities that might involve a computer science student who also has strong interest in the humanities, and some projects related to the Data Analysis and Social Inquiry Lab (DASIL) might be able to involve students.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contact: Ask around.

Instructional Technology Services

ITS typically hires a few students to work on a variety of projects over the summer, including help desk. We don't know how many students they plan to hire this summer.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contact: John Hammond, hammondj@grinnell.edu, and Ralph Helt heltr@grinnell.edu.

Communications

In recent summers, Communications has hired students to work on the Web site. I've not heard back as to whether they plan to hire students in summer 2015.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contact: Sarah Anderson, anderssa@grinnell,edu.

Other Campus Jobs

There are, of course, a variety of other jobs available on campus students who are really interested in staying at Grinnell. Some of these jobs may have a computing component. You will need to spend some effort finding these jobs and convincing appropriate folks to hire you. I have been told that the library, admissions, and the security department often have the most opportunities.

If you do stay on campus, you may also want to try to volunteer in one of the faculty research groups, or to gather a group of students to work on a side project, or ....

Off Campus Opportunities

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The National Science Foundation sponsors a number of REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) projects nationwide. The NSF site can provide you with some pointers, including some that are nearby. The CS faculty know folks at DePauw, Harvey Mudd, and Hope, among others.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contact: Individual institutions. See the list at NSF, http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/reu/reu_search.cfm, for more details.

Institutions we've tend to know better include DePaul, DePauw, Harvey Mudd, Hope, Washington University, and Iowa State.

Corporate Internships

You should talk to career services about potential internships. You should also search on the Web and using other resources. Grinnell students have done internships with a wide variety of companies.

Some students have also had good luck contacting alumni for ideas. The CLS is likely to be able to provide some leads.

Advantages

Disadvantages

International Students: The Center for Careers, Life, and Service has a special form for obtaining curricular practical training (whatever that is) for the summer.

For more information and ideas, visit Grinnell's Center for Career, Life, and Service.

In addition, Atul Gupta, a Grinnell Trustte and President of ATG in Des Moines, says there are hundreds of internships available in Des Moines. You might contact him for suggestions and diretions.

Other Research Internships

You might also consider applying for internships at research laboratories.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contact: Individual researchers.

Noyce-Intel Summer Internships

These are competitive internships available to Grinnell students to undertake interesting and socially responsible applications of computing and technology. The internship must be at a nonprofit or governmental institution. Certainly, not all of these internships are in computing related fields, but many are. In the past, some these fellowships have been used to support students working for Freenets, students developing computer applications for other disciplines at other Universities, and students doing computer work for nonprofits. Two are typically awarded each year, depending on cost.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contacts: Michael B. Guenther, guenthmb@grinnell.edu and the CLS

Wilson Internships

The Wilson program is currently under revision. Currently, it looks like Wilson will be targeting internships that relate to enterprise, innovation, and leadership. Interestingly, many tech internships, particularly interships at startups, give you opportunities to explore all three of these areas.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Contacts: Janet Davis, davisjan@cs.grinnell.edu and the CLS

Other Intership Funds

Grinnell has other internship funds, too. Check out the Web page at http://www.grinnell.edu/about/offices-services/cls/internships/funding and talk to the CLS

Google Summer of Code

In many years, Google sponsors opportunities for students to volunteer on open source projects (and receive compensation for volunteering) through a program that they call Google Summer of Code (GSoC). It's not yet clear if GSoC will be offered in Summer 2015, but I expect that it will.

In summer 2007, three Grinnell students were supported for Google Summer of Code projects. In summer 2009, at least one Grinnell student worked on summer of code. We've had a few work on GSoC since then, but not many.

Advantages

Disadvantages

History