The PCS Nested Internship
By Sean Gaffney, Chris Stevens, Andrew Schmidt, Jacob Georgio, Melanie Zammarrelli, Owen Porpora, Jay Holliday and Joe Miller
Like many technology-consulting companies, we have talked about creating an internship program for several years, but had never stepped out to begin planning. This year was different, we asked ourselves, “why not this year?” After some discussion and planning, the Palitto Consulting Services team made the leap to help the next generation of students transition to technology professionals.
The Plan ~ by Jay
We started planning our internship program by assembling a small steering group and I drafted a plan for everyone to review. It followed a typical internship plan employing a college junior or senior computer science major. At the first meeting to review that plan, we hit our first bump when a co-worker asked the question: Should we be targeting college students or should we be considering high school students? The idea was suggested as Ohio offers high school students an option to earn an Honors STEM diploma, which requires a 2 week work-study experience.
Trying to figure out how we could incorporate a program for college and high school students led us to do some creative thinking. Finally inspiration hit and the idea of a nested internship took form. Our idea was to hire a college intern for the entire summer (4 months) and assign them the task of designing and implementing a 2 week high school internship for four students. The college intern’s time could be split roughly 50/50, with the first 50% doing regular work assignments to get real-world experience. The second 50% could be working on creating and running a HS internship that would take place the last two weeks of summer. This would allow us to reach out to both age groups, and the college intern would get valuable experience working in a leadership role to mentor the HS students as they prepared to transition from HS to college.
Now we needed to develop what the HS internship would look like. With the college intern tasked to implement the HS program, we decided to give the intern complete control over what the HS program would cover, within budget constraints. It could use AI, IoT, VR, Cloud Computing or whatever other technology they thought would be exciting and interesting to themselves and the HS students. The idea was to give the college intern a chance to really show off their talent and improve their resume, as well as the helping the high school students improve their college applications.
Next, we started looking at the roles our existing staff would need to fill to support this program. We decided that we would need several mentors to work with the college intern and one person to supervise the program. Having decided that it would be good for the intern to supervise the HS students, it was decided that this would be a great opportunity for one of our company’s younger team members to take on that supervisory role.
When we asked for volunteers, we were happy when Chris, a developer who has been with us for about two years, enthusiastically stepped up to the challenge. All the pieces were in place. At this point, we were satisfied with the direction of the program; helping our organization develop our team members, our company was helping a college student transition from college to work, and we were helping four high school students transition from HS to college. We also decided to add one small stipulation to the HS project, we wanted the project to be community oriented to get that fifth level for a five-way win!
After our meetings, creating job postings, and conducting many interviews, we hired the perfect college intern, Sean, as well as selecting four outstanding high school students that you’ll be introduced to below. It was a lot of work for the whole team, but it was worth every minute. The hardest part for me was stepping back when my part was finished to give Chris and Sean room to succeed, and they came through with flying colors!
In the hope that others might be inspired to create their own internship programs and be able to utilize the program we developed, we placed our planning documents and the HS project in GitHub at https://github.com/Palitto-Consulting-Services/The-Nested-Internship. I strongly encourage anyone thinking about creating an internship program to take the leap and make a difference. It’s worth the effort to further our community, our teams and future generations.
The Internship Supervisor’s View ~ by Chris
From the moment I heard PCS was interested in developing an internship, I knew I wanted to have a role working with the students. Shortly after the idea was brought to the team there was a need for volunteers and I felt that I could connect with the students and help them figure out if a technology-oriented career was something they were interested in.
I was blessed with the opportunity to lead the internship. With the short time we would have with the students, my goal was not to write a curriculum or meet certain criteria. My main goal was to challenge them, help them overcome obstacles, and grow their learning capacity.
In preparation for the college intern’s arrival, I sought out advice and did much research to create guidelines and a schedule for the program.
Fortunately, Sean, our college intern, came in and hit the ground running and we were able to work closely as he created the High School internship. Two members of the PCS team filled the mentor roles to help Sean with the part of his internship that included working on programming assignments for several customers that share our belief in helping students develop into professionals.
From the day Sean arrived until the four high school students arrived, the time flew by. Sean immediately took the initiative in planning the high school internship, prototyping the project and preparing everything he would need. I’ll leave it to Sean to describe the HS internship project but some of the tasks consisted of planning out an agenda as well as thoroughly documenting the hardware and software needed to make the high school internship a success.
During the two weeks of the high school internship, it was amazing to see how intelligent these young minds were and how eager they were to learn. We went through many programming languages, database skills, command prompt scripts, an electronics primer and much more. They were able to gain real-world experience, build relationships, and learn how to work together as a team.
It was a blessing to be able to lead the first Palitto Consulting Internship and I look very forward to the coming years with our future internship programs.
The College Intern’s View ~ by Sean
My summer internship at PCS gave me everything I was hoping for and more. I worked alongside experienced programmers and learned a lot through the projects I was given. More so, through leading the High School STEM Internship, I learned a lot about leading a team, driving a project, and working alongside motivated individuals.
The students built an Internet of Things (IoT) display for the Wadsworth Public Library. The display consists of a small network of Arduino nodes and a Raspberry Pi controller. Each of the nodes is connected to a unique physical sensor that gathers data, such as light level or temperature. Each Arduino reports its readings back to the Raspberry Pi which can process the data and output it through the web browser in an easily digestible display. The five sensors include an ambient light sensor, a temperature sensor, a motion sensor, an accelerometer, and a gesture sensor. Each sensor can be interacted with and can do a range of tasks, from turning on a light bulb to setting off a vibration motor!
Not everything went exactly as planned, but the project was a success. I was surprised by how quickly the students were able to dive in to the project and begin working with both software and hardware they were formerly unfamiliar with. I feel like this internship experience has amply prepared me for a career in software development.
The High School Interns’ View
I was thrilled when I got an email regarding my internship application at Palitto Consulting. I hardly knew anything about coding or creating electrical circuits before I started, but I never felt ignored or like I was being rushed. My favorite language ended up being PHP, even though I spent hours trying to find out-of-place characters. Despite the frustrations associated with coding, I still learned more than I ever could in a classroom, including languages such as Python, Terminal, C++, Visual Studio, and PuTTY. I would recommend anyone, no matter your skill level, to apply to any internship or learning opportunity hosted by Palitto Consulting.
I came to PCS and didn’t know anyone, nor what the company did. I learned a lot about coding and the programs we used; C++, Arduino, Putty, Php, Python & Terminal. After completing two weeks at PCS I now know the basics of real world coding and troubleshooting. I also worked on a team with 3 other high school and a college intern. I’ve never worked on such a large group project, especially a successful one. From coding, to working together with a team, my experience at PCS was amazing. It’s something that has really taught me a lot and helped better me as a person in the future.
I had no idea what to expect when I accepted the internship, but I knew that I would be challenged to learn something new. Now that we have completed the internship, I learned more than I ever expected to about programming – including languages like C++, Python and PHP with software such as Visual Studio, MySQL, and PuTTY. After hours of troubleshooting the software and hardware, it was so rewarding to see the final project of all of our hard work. Everyone at Palitto Consulting Services has been incredibly helpful and understanding. I would encourage anyone—no matter what they want to major in—to apply for this internship because it is such a fulfilling experience and can be a lot of fun with the other interns.
I had a great experience with this internship because I learned so many new skills and enjoyed working with the other interns to solve problems together. This internship has also opened my eyes to other career paths that I was not previously thinking about. I would highly recommend anyone to take this internship opportunity if it presents itself, as the skills and lessons you learn here are priceless.
The Wadsworth Public Library’s View
The Wadsworth Public Library was excited to hear about a collaboration opportunity with Palitto Consulting and their ideas for the “Internet of Things” display. After months of hard work on the part of some very talented local students, we have an interactive display that our patrons can explore. Patrons of all ages can visit the “Internet of Things” display and use the hands-on devices to explore some principals of coding. This is a great way for patrons, particularly students, to see first-hand what participating in coding and technology projects might look like. We are thankful to Palitto Consulting for bringing this project opportunity to the Library and our patrons. All of the equipment purchased for this project has been donated to the Library and we look forward to using it in future student programs.
We are thankful that everyone involved in Palitto Consulting’s Nested Internship was positively impacted. Serving future generations and our community is an important piece of our company’s culture. We hope that others might be inspired to create their own internship programs. We strongly encourage anyone thinking about creating an internship program to take that leap and make a difference. Again, it’s worth the effort to impact our community, our teams and future generations.
If you are interested in being a part of our growing team at PCS, or would like to be considered for an internship in the future, please contact us!