Inaugural UCSB IT Internship Provides Undergraduates with Hands-On Experience

By Lindsey Terra. As workforce demand increases for graduates with information technology skills, UCSB IT kicked off its newly implemented annual internship program in June 2020. With the end of year one approaching, the interns reflected on the practical skills gained through this program—skills shaping them into desirable candidates for post-grad career opportunities.

A cohort of six undergraduates from a pool of 275 applicants were selected by various campus IT departments, with one intern assigned to each participating department. The program does not require any previous technical background, just a willingness to learn; in fact, most students from this year’s cohort had zero experience with the platform project to which they were assigned.

The projects involved exposure to a variety of software, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Salesforce, JupyterHub, Power BI, and more. In February, students presented their projects to IT leadership, showcasing how their knowledge and skills have progressed through their individual project assignments.

“When interviewing for summer 2021 internships, many interviewers were surprised with how much I know about AWS as an undergraduate, so there’s a lot of value in getting experience with a high-demand software before entering a full-time career,” said Cindy Zhao, cloud solutions AWS intern. Cindy, who is now fully AWS certified, accepted an internship at popular software company Splunk for the upcoming summer.

Interns gain experience collaborating across departments with a wide range of goals and are regularly brought together to engage in training and networking opportunities. Through this synergistic environment, students build skills that will stick with them through future endeavors, like public speaking, leadership, relationship building, and more. Program supervisors emphasize the ability to explain a technical concept to someone without a technical background, a skill that is highly sought after in many fields, especially in today’s remote work environment.

“One of the most powerful skills to have in my desired career path is being able to communicate raw data, and utilizing trends and maps so that people can understand the true impact of the data,” said Isiah Fimbrez, data systems analyst intern. “Through my Power BI project, I was able to create reports for COVID-19 in our community, and it was really special to be a part of something that is impacting our campus so deeply.”

Isiah’s work with Power BI also allowed him to practice communicating important technical information to a wide audience, adding more capabilities to his toolkit while sharpening the skills he already developed over the course of his UCSB education.

Interning with UCSB IT provides more than just another way to make money or strengthen a resume. Students work on initiatives that directly impact campus technology services, and prepare for a full-time career in a field that is constantly evolving as the world becomes increasingly virtual.

Applications for the 2021-2022 program opened via Handshake in March 2021. Follow UCSB Information Technology on LinkedIn or @UCSBIT on Twitter for updates, or contact Project Manager Rebecca Carroll at

Lindsey Terra, communications & outreach assistant, Office of the Chief Information Officer, UC Santa Barbara.Lindsey Terra is communications & outreach assistant, Office of the Chief Information Officer, UC Santa Barbara.

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