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Introduction

A student must be a declared computer science undergraduate major or graduate student to obtain university credit for a computer-related job. A student will receive an S or U grade (satisfactory/unsatisfactory), based upon the student's required end-of-semester internship report .

Students are responsible for finding a qualified job for themselves. The Department of Computer Science posts any job opportunities that come our way on the flip board in front of the deparmental office and forwards electronic job postings to declared Computer Science undergraduate majors and graduate students, from the email address CSCI Job Postings. Career Services on campus can help in the job search; they sponsor Internship and Job Fairs every spring and fall and maintain a web site, Huskies Get Hired, which posts employment opportunities.

Whether or not you choose to use your internship for academic credit, we encourage you to register your internship with Career Services so that an additional internship notation appears on your official transcript; register at http://www.niu.edu/careerservices/reporting/index.shtml .

Research and Development Internships (RDI)

The Department of Computer Science offers a Research and Development Internship (RDI) program designed to augment and complement the existing internship program that has successfully served our students and employers of our students and graduates for so many years.

How does RDI work?

  • Employers tell the department the skill(s) they are looking for in a student (e.g., “Must know Java,” “Experience in Windows a plus but not required”) and the number or students they anticipate they will need.
  • Based on that skill set, and in consultation with our faculty who teach those skills, the department identifies our top students having those skills. 
  • The department presents the employer with a list of qualified student candidates, each having been recognized by our faculty as the “best of our best.”
  • Employers interview students, either face-to-face on campus or via phone, and make their selection.
  • For each selected student, employers enter into an agreement with the university for a “contract course.” Described broadly, under that agreement employers pay the university a lump sum from which the university will pay the student and cover other associated fees.
  • Students register for an RDI course, work at employer's site for up to 40 hours per week during the summer or from campus for up to 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters, and submit a report at the end of each semester (see Internship Report Requirements below).
  • Employers supervise their RDI students and manage their projects.
  • The department provides office space, computers, and network access for RDI students. It also provides “hotel” office space and a conference room for employers’ on-campus visits and teleconferencing facilities to RDI students for remote supervisory phone calls.
  • Typical anticipated use case: The employer first hires a student over the summer for work at the employer's site. The relationship continues over the school year with the student working from campus.

Comparing a Traditional Internship to an RDI

 

Traditional Internship

RDI

Employer-student relationship

Limited to 2 internships, typically summers only

Unlimited internships, continuous, year round

Course credit limit

CSCI 390 may be repeated once and CSCI 690 may be repeated up to 6 hours

Unlimited

Student supervision and project management

Employer

Employer

Student report required

Yes, see Internship Report Requirements below

Yes, see Internship Report Requirements below.

Course numbers

CSCI 390 (undergraduate students) or 690 (graduate students)

CSCI 496 for (undergraduate students) or CSCI 696 (graduate students)

Where students work

Typically employer’s site

Employer's site during the summer, on-campus during fall and spring

Number of hours worked

At least 30 hours per week for a summer internship and at least 20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters.

Up to 40 hours per week during the summer and up to 20 hours per week during fall and spring semesters.

What additional benefits does RDI offer?

  • Provides for continuity in employer/student relationships. Traditional internships run only over the summer, and therefore, employers and students are sometimes frustrated by the 9-month window they both must wait during the fall and spring semesters before they can resume their relationship through another internship. The RDI program seeks to bridge that gap as opportunity to preserve the employer student relationship without forcing them to experience a lapse.
  • Faculty recommendations identifying the “best of our best.”  While student resumes, transcripts, and interviews are all tools that have been successfully used by employers, the information that can be gleaned from these tools is sometimes limited. Our faculty, on the other hand, are in a unique position to observe and assess our students in personal relationships over a 15 week semester. There is no substitute for that experience.
  • By design, the RDI program is intended to accommodate long term employer/student relationships. Unlike the courses in our traditional internship program, the RDI courses were purposely created with no limits to the number of times they may be repeated, specifically for long term relationships.
  • Flexibility through more choices. The RDI program gives employers and students the option to participate in internships during the fall and spring semesters as opposed to only the summer, which was typically the case in our traditional Internship program.

Student Report Requirements

See Internship Report Requirements, below.


We also encourage you to register your internship with Career Services so that an additional internship notation appears on your official transcript; register at http://www.niu.edu/careerservices/reporting/index.shtml .

Contact Us

  • Prospective employers should contact Prof. Nicholas Karonis, Chair, karonis@niu.edu
  • NIU CS graduate students should contact Prof. Zerwekh, Director of Graduate Studies zerwekh@cs.niu.edu
  • NIU CS undergraduate students should contact Prof. Penny McIntire, Assistant to the Chair and Undergraduate Advisor, pmcintire@niu.edu

RDI Employers

  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
  • Growth Path Analytics

Traditional Internships

Traditional internships have been a long-standing success, servicing both students and employers. In order to receive credit for a computer science internship, a student must be either:

  • A fully declared undergraduate who has completed CSCI 340 or CSCI 360 and who is in good standing (at least a 2.5 GPA).
  • A declared computer science graduate student in good standing (at least a 3.0 GPA) who has successfully completed at least one semester of computer science graduate coursework. International students are also eligible for internships, but they must have two semesters of successful coursework before they are eligible. They are also required to register for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) with the International Student and Faculty Office (ISFO), which is a simple matter. You may request that the Director of Graduate Studies send an email to the ISFO certifying your eligibility, or you may bring the ISFO form to the Director of Graduate Studies for a signature.

These internships most often occur in the summer, but if circumstances permit, may also be taken in fall and spring semesters. An internship may be repeated once, for a total of 6 credit hours, thereby satisfying up two computer science elective requirements in a student's degree program.

To register for CSCI 390 (undergraduate students) or CSCI 690 (graduate students), students must complete the following steps:

  1. Line up a computer-related position. Obtaining such a position is the responsibility of the student. Formal job listings are maintained by NIU's Career Services office, and informal listings are posted on the "job postings" flip board outside the front window of the Department. 
  2. Submit to the Department an internship application form ( Undergraduate Internship Application Form or Graduate Internship Application Form ), change of plan (if undergraduate), and an offering letter from the employer. The offering letter should be addressed to the Chair of the Department of Computer Science, stating:
    • That the student has been offered a job.
    • The nature of the job assignment(s).
    • The dates of employment.
    • The number of hours per week that will be spent in the firm on the job:
      • At least 30 hrs/week for a minimum of 8 full weeks during a Summer semester, or
      • At least 20 hrs/week for at least 12 full weeks during a Fall or Spring semester.
  3. If the internship request is approved, the Department will register the student for the appropriate course for 3 hours of credit. The student is responsible for paying the appropriate tuition.
  4. Toward the end of the internship semester, each student must prepare a report which outlines his/her computer related activities with the firm and describes in detail at least one project that s/he worked on for the firm. See Internship Report Requirements below.
  5. If the report is approved and a satisfactory grade assigned for the internship, a letter will be sent to the employer acknowledging receipt of the student's report and the employer's letter.

The same procedures must be followed by any student planning to register for an internship for the second time.

Students cannot count more than 6 hours of internship credit toward Northern Illinois University's required hours for graduation, toward Northern Illinois University's 40 upper division hour requirement for undergraduates, or toward satisfying computer science elective requirements.

Whether you choose to register for internship credit or not, you should register your internship with Career Services so that the internship appears as an additional note on your official transcript; register at http://www.niu.edu/careerservices/reporting/index.shtml.

Internship Report Requirements

To receive a satisfactory grade (S) for an internship course, a student must submit a report that satisfies the following criteria:

  • The report must be of professional quality, typed, and at least five full, single-spaced pages in length for undergraduates and eight full, single-spaced pages in length for graduate student. Title pages, employer letters, and bibliography pages will not be counted toward the page requirements. Although the Department doesn't have specific guidelines for what the report must contain, suggestions for content include general discussion of projects and assiments, technical specifications of projects, what the intern learned, mistakes the intern made, activities the company provided for interns, and interactions with other employees and supervisors.
  • The report must be accompanied by a signed letter from the student's supervisor or employer, on company letterhead and addressed to the Chair of the Department of Computer Science, stating that:
    • The student’s performance and conduct on the job has been satisfactory.
    • The employer has read the student’s report, and that the report:
      • Accurately reflects the student’s activity with the firm.
      • Contains no proprietary information or breach of confidentiality concerning the firm’s products, procedures, etc.
    • The report will not be accepted unless it is accompanied by the employer's letter. A student should check ahead of time that his or her supervisor will not be out of the office at the time the report will need to be certified.
  • The letter should be bound into the report in a report folder, and the folder should be submitted by the Monday of the last week of the semester. The report must be hand-delivered or mailed to the department. Only original documents will be accepted; faxes and emails are not permitted. The report should be addressed to:
    The Chair
    Department of Computer Science
    Northern Illinois University
    DeKalb, IL 60115

The report will be critiqued by the Coordinator of Computer Science Internships for both style and content. If a report does not meet professional standards or follow the above detailed rules, the student will receive a "U" for the official course grade. Be aware that if this is the only course in which you are enrolled and you receive a “U," it can result in academic probation.

Students may find it useful to save copies of their reports, to show to potential employers during future job interviews.