What is an internship?

Practical experience in a formal work environment is a valuable aspect of a Computer Science or Computer Systems curriculum. The intent of the CS Internship program at Northern Michigan University is to provide students with an opportunity to earn academic credit while gaining work experience at a business, government, or other institutional computer center. Students are employed on a full-time basis typically for a four to eight month period. The hours, wages, and benefits associated with the job are determined by the employer prior to hiring the intern. Although tasks assigned to the student usually correspond to the student's educational background, new and exciting challenges may be encountered. Additional formal or informal training may be provided by the employer either on-site or off-site. Computer Science-related tasks, such as, network design and installation, software programming, testing, documentation, and user training would be considered as appropriate job duties for an intern.

Internships can be credit generating for the student (refer to the Syllabus for CS491-CS Internship for more requirements). In addition to providing a work experience for the student, the internship must also provide a learning environment where the student can gain technical skills in the field of computer science. The student must be working under a mentor or expert that can provide training and guidance to the student. A work environment where the student is the expert would not qualify as a valid CS Internship.

​​​​​​​Student Eligibility

Employers will have their own set of requirements for interns. Usually, employers are looking for Junior or Senior level students since they have already had a majority of their college course work including many of their Computer Science classes. Normally, a student will need at least a 3.00 or better grade point average in order to qualify or interview for an internship. Employers interview potential interns, and then make the hiring decision. No student is guaranteed an internship position, but students with good academic records are usually placed.

Advantages and Responsibilities:


Through the CS Internship Program, employers become familiar with students that are good candidates for permanent employment upon graduation. Students who have previously worked with the firm can be productive more quickly than those new to the company. In addition, interns may bring new tools and ideas into the work place, providing the company with ongoing education and increased productivity.

The employer will be responsible for providing a meaningful work experience for the student intern. Skills the student possesses should be utilized and developed by assignment to appropriate computer-related tasks. Supervision and guidance must be available to the student in a professional environment. The employer will sign monthly status reports written by the student in order to verify their accuracy. At the end of the internship period the employer will complete an evaluation of the student, including performance, strengths and weaknesses of the student, and any comments regarding the strength and validity of the CS academic program at Northern Michigan University. The CS Internship Supervisor should be contacted in the event that problems occur with the student.


The internship experience allows the student to see their profession in a more realistic light. Working side-by-side with programmers, analysts, and computer users helps the student to develop a sense of responsibility and confidence in their abilities. Listing professional work experience on the resume helps the student secure employment after graduation. In some cases, students are offered employment by the company where they interned. Upon returning to classes after an internship, students tend to be more focused on their course work and show more interest in research.

During the internship, the student will be required to submit monthly status reports to the CS Internship Supervisor. These reports summarize the job duties and projects done during each monthly (or 4-week) period. Upon completion of the internship the student will be expected to compose a written report of their internship experience, including details of job duties and projects, as well as the benefits of the internship experience. Also, after completion of the internship, the student will be expected to make an oral presentation of about 20 minutes to a CS class. The topic of the presentation will relate to some part of the work experience and/or a topic of current study or interest as determined by the CS Internship Supervisor.

Internship Supervisor
Prof. John W. Sarkela
Phone: 906-227-1597
Fax: 906-227-2010
E-mail: jsarkela@nmu.edu

Northern Michigan University is committed to providing a learning, living and working environment free from discrimination. NMU supports the Title IX* federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including: gender based discrimination, pregnancy and parenting discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, voyeurism, and any other conduct of a sexual nature that is nonconsensual.

Title IX covers any area where an NMU student is assigned for placement (e.g. student teaching) and/or participates in an internship arranged or initiated by the University, during their term at NMU. 

The University cares about you.  If you believe you are experiencing or experienced sex discrimination, in a university or non-university sponsored placement and/or internship, please report.  The University has resources and support information available for you.

To report, please contact:

Complaints against employees, applicants, and third parties

Janet Koski
Director of Equal Opportunity
Equal Opportunity Officer and Title IX Coordinator
105 Cohodas Building

Complaints against students

Mary Brundage
Associate Dean of Students
Deputy Title IX Coordinator
2001 Hedgcock


Public Safety and Police Services
158 Services Building

* Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."


Supervisor Prof. John Sarkela
Office: (906) 227-1597
e-mail: jsarkela@nmu.edu
  1. Accepted or hired by an employer for an Internship position

  2. Completion of Internship Application forms

  3. Signed Add Card for CS491

  1. Monthly (or every 4 weeks) report including a discussion of assigned projects for the period plus a summary of how the time was used. Reports must be typewritten or computer generated. Refer to the attached sample.

  2. written final report describing in some detail the projects worked on during the internship period and how the internship experience has benefited you. Refer to the attached sample.

  3. An oral presentation to a CS class about your internship experience. The presentation should be about 20 minutes in length with appropriate overheads included. Your oral presentation will be previewed by the internship supervisor.


TO: John Sarkela
​FROM: Mary Sample
DATE: July 18, 1996
RE: Internship monthly report for the period 6/1/96 through 6/30/96

The first week I completed the JCL CBT I had previously started. The CBT was informative, but it's difficult to remember some commands if you don't get a chance to write programs like you do in a classroom environment. I'm trying to find out if there is a test system where I could write sample programs to get some more experience.

The first job for the week was to test out the new software we had received during the previous week. I took some documents that I had created using Word and Excel and tried to duplicate them using the imitation software. The spreadsheet based product worked nearly as well as Excel except that it was DOS based. The word processing software was not comparable at all. If you wanted to create a simple document with no graphics or graphical layout features it would work fine, but when you tried to produce a more professional looking document it didn't have the tools to complete it. Another problem was its inability to read formats other than text(.txt) or old WP for DOS files. I also spent several hours trying to figure out the Novell Netware SNA gateway software. The disks had been mixed together with a previous version and there were no identifying marks to distinguish the different copies. I called the Novell Help desk but they were unable to give me a listing of current disks and files. I tried to load the program from what I felt were the right disks, but it failed the installation when I started. This wasn't a project that was needed, just a curiosity on my part on setting up a gateway. I also took some time to install virus protection software on some of the network PC's that we set up. During this week we were off for two days because of the fourth of July holiday.

After the long holiday weekend I worked with the production team on the weekly download process. Each Monday (or first work day of the week) we download a file from TSO to the network for our customer. The process is fairly simple except that the file is quite large and takes a long time to transfer. During this time I also learned how to write a CSR (Customer Service Request). CSR's are generated whenever there is any problem with a current report or if you want to create a new one. The job I worked on was to delete the sending of multiple copies of a report. It seemed like a lot of wasted time and effort, but then it was explained how the production process worked and it make more sense. It's difficult to think about mainframe applications after spending so much time working with PC's.

In the second week I also worked on installing an HP desk plotter to print color presentations and overheads. I spent a couple hours sorting through parts and extra pens as well doing some general maintenance. When it was cleaned up I proceeded to set it up as a remote printer on our LAN. After setting up I helped a co-worker create and print some overheads for a presentation.

Late in the week I met with a Blue Cross network technician to go over the process of connecting our PC's to the Blue Cross LAN. He showed me how there network is connected throughout the building as well as how the network software is setup. It was interesting to see how they connect and control so many systems. The rest of the week was spent working on miscellaneous small projects. I spend some more time working on database tables for the Visual Basic project we created. My internship documentation and time log also took some time to complete.


CS491 Computer Science Internship

Submitted by:

Mary Sample

Date: April 25, 1994


1.0 Introduction

Explain which company you interned with, where the facility was located, and the main emphasis of your learning experience. For example,

"I mainly worked on network hardware and software installation."


"I primarily designed and implemented real-time software to control the production line."

Your internship experience may have included more than one area of training.

2.0 Discussion of Projects

Discuss in detail the areas of responsibility you had to deal with during your internship. Although this is an overview of your internship experience, include some technical details about the projects you worked on. Discuss the significance of your efforts relative to the companies operations. Also, organize the discussion of different projects under new subheadings. For example,

  1. Database Software Project

  2. Network Installation

  3. Etc. . . .

3.0 Summary and Conclusions

Summarize your work and learning experience. Explain how the internship either reinforced or changed your career goals. Discuss any new perspectives you obtained because of this experience. Elaborate on the benefits you realized from the internship.

TIME LOG: Mary Sample


DATE: 6/1/96 to 6/30/96


Time (Hours)

% of Time

PC Installation/Setup



Software Installation/Setup



PC Help/Training






Application Development



Project Documentation



Phone Time









Approved by: _______________________________

Date: ____________________________


Duane Boss, Manager