Computer Science Internships Lead to Careers
Milligan’s area of computer science trains students to solve problems. Students can expect to assemble and re-assemble the computers in the lab. They also are expected to maintain the computer science area’s server, one that purposefully breaks down and glitches to allow students to discover solutions. In addition, students can manage and oversee security cameras monitoring the third floor in Derthick Hall.
Beyond the classroom, Dr. Carolyn Carter, professor of computer information systems and business administration, emphasizes that each student should also gain experience by interning throughout their college years. With small class sizes, she can be very strategic about where each student interns; they are placed at businesses that allow her students to get in-depth experience.
As Milligan students have entered into the workplace, they have built a strong reputation.
Blackburn, Childers, and Steagall
At Blackburn, Childers, and Steagall, a regional accounting firm, the IT department is staffed entirely by Milligan graduates. Jonathan Phillippe (’02) serves as the IT director where he leads Don Wallingford (’05), Ryan Owens (’12), and current junior Cody Mudrack of Elizabethton, Tennessee.
Along with managing the IT department, Phillippe implements and monitors technology objectives to line up with the firm’s goals. Wallingford focuses his efforts on network security at the firm, as well as client-based technology services. Owens spends his days ensuring that the computer systems are running smoothly and provides system support to the firm’s 120 employees.
While their roles vary, each member of the team had the same beginning at BCS—as an intern.
“BCS tries to select interns during their sophomore year, so they have time to learn and develop here,” shared Phillippe. “In the IT department, I only select interns from Milligan. I have a trust level with Milligan’s professors, and they provide students who thrive in our office.”
For current student Cody Mudrack, interning at BCS has been a great opportunity. As a people person, Mudrack has enjoyed assisting with an office-wide update to Windows 10.
“Working in IT allows me to solve issues for people and help get them back on track,” shared Mudrack. “At BCS, I serve as a first line of defense when people have issues, and I enjoy helping them navigate new updates and changes.”
Mudrack also acknowledges the ease of stepping into the IT department at BCS as he can connect with his co-workers about Milligan. They each have a common background and a shared respect for Milligan’s professors.
“You get to really know your professors at Milligan,” shared Wallingford. “Some of my favorite memories are visiting our professors’ homes for meals. One semester, I showed up a week early to Carolyn Carter’s house, and she and her husband, Milton, welcomed me in for dinner.”
Congregating around the daily coffee station provided by Dr. Teresa Carter, professor of information systems, was also a favorite memory for this group of alumni. Their professors’ abilities to connect with them and build relationships was critical for their success.
Milligan also has built a strong relationship with Siemens. Over the past year, seniors Ryan Kelly, Elizabethton, Tennessee, and Jarod Blazo, Lawrence, Kansas, have interned at the company, and recent graduate Derek Minor (’18) was hired after interning as a student.
At Siemens, Kelly serves as a software developer, and his most recent project focused on creating a PLC, a programmable computer capable of controlling a factory. While this PLC is still being created, companies like Tesla have purchased PLCs created by Siemens in Johnson City.
For Kelly, his internship brings a broader perspective to coding.
“In developing a PLC for factory automation, there are a lot of safety implications involved, and I am required to test the program for any issues,” he shared. “The implications are broader than any project I have worked on previously, and it is exciting to test the skills I am learning at Milligan in real-world scenarios.”
Kelly began to appreciate T. Carter’s emphasis on software architecture through this internship as well.
“Professor Carter emphasizes software architecture, which means writing sustainable code that can be edited and revised,” said Kelly. “In my first project at Siemens, I realized how important it is to write code that all programmers can read and edit.”
Internships strengthen the knowledge Milligan’s students learn in the classroom. The problem solving skills and professionalism these students take into the workplace has built a strong reputation in the Tri-Cities. The exposure they receive by interning allows them to successfully transfer into the professional world. Many times, these students seamlessly begin their careers with the same company where they interned.