Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of stories highlighting College of Information Sciences and Technology students and their summer internships.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — To graduate, students in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology are required to complete an internship within their field. However, many students, including Nick Alico, take advantage of the opportunity to go beyond the minimum requirement and explore multiple professional opportunities before earning their degrees.
Though he already completed software engineering internships with Oracle and GE Healthcare in previous summers, Alico, a senior Schreyer Honors Scholar majoring in human centered design and development, attended the virtual IST internship and career fair in fall 2020. It was there that he met a Penn State alumnus who was recruiting students to intern at Rockwell Automation in summer 2021.
“He really took the time to read my resume and connect my experiences with the values and opportunities that Rockwell Automation prides on extending to their interns, and the woman who interviewed me — who would ultimately become my manager — extended such a supportive nature,” said Alico. “It was clear Rockwell Automation wants to support the growth of their interns, both technically and interpersonally. It was an easy choice to make.”
Alico accepted a position as an IT software engineering intern, through which he collaborated on various teams with senior designers and developers to improve the user interface and design of a full-stack internal service-based alert system. He attributes his success in this position to his experiences fostered by the College of IST both inside and outside of the classroom.
“I have learned a great deal about what it means to work on an agile software development team,” Alico said. “Having these skills under my belt has really gone a long way in opening doors to professional internships and roles in industry.”
Inside the classroom, Alico also has learned database technologies, programming standards and testing practices — all skills that have provided a strong foundation for him to learn different job-specific tools and languages in a faster and more efficient manner.
Additionally, Alico’s experience as an IST Diplomat, through which he serves as an ambassador for the college, has put him in a position to further connect to other students and staff. Working as part of a team that helps improve his communication skills is a tool that Alico has applied in his internships and in the workplace.
“Communication and collaboration are incredibly crucial in design and development, so I wanted to work on becoming more comfortable speaking in front of groups and interacting with stakeholders,” Alico said.
Students in the College of IST are able to participate in meaningful and important projects early on in their careers.
Those soft skills enabled Alico to confidently work with bright-minded professionals around the world.
“The idea of collaborating with people I have never met on projects that will impact thousands of people in their day-to-day proceedings is incredibly rewarding to me,” Alico said.
Alico’s latest internship at Rockwell Automation was the next step on his journey toward becoming a user experience engineer after graduation.
“I left Rockwell Automation with a wider skill set and a deeper degree of knowledge regarding some of the most prevalent software, technologies and skills that are desired in the world of software engineering today,” he said.