Google grant to help Iowa Western Community College students to land local, paid internships
Information technology students at Iowa Western Community College will continue to have access to internship opportunities through a grant that was recently awarded to the college.
Iowa Western announced Wednesday the school was awarded a $50,000 grant through the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation to help fund the Technology Assistance Command Center (TACC) Project.
The TACC Project is a program that helps match IT students from both Iowa Western and the University of Nebraska at Omaha with internship opportunities with small businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits that wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to pay an intern.
“Thanks to the Google grant, IWCC students will have access to relevant training and education to match the technology needs of a global economy,” Iowa Western President Dan Kinney said. “The TACC Project also benefits local nonprofits and small businesses that are matched with students that help them realize the potential of technology for their respective organizations.”
The TACC Project ensures students have access to the paid internship opportunities they need to complete as part of one of the mandatory academic requirements needed to complete a computer information technology degree at IWCC.
“Students who have been training get to go out and help these organizations with their projects,” Iowa Western program chair William Barrett said. “Students gain experience by getting out in the real world doing different types of things that are hard to stimulate in the classroom.”
Services provided by TACC student interns can include a variety of technology tasks like assisting with set-up and configuration of new computers, development of new websites, graphic communication services, establishing social media accounts, troubleshooting computer-related problems, installing new software and software upgrades and assisting with cyber security issues.
When pairing a student with an internship, Terry Bailey, Iowa Western program internship coordinator, first looks at a student’s skillset. Then, based on those skills and the needs of the organization, Bailey will connect the best student for the job.
Students are generally paid by the hour since most internships are small, at five to 10 hours per project, but hours can vary based on project size. “Internships are very important,” Bailey said. “When I talk to a businesses, that’s almost the first thing they ask about, and there’s only two ways for students to gain experience when they come out of the classroom – one is through a part-time job or two, get an internship.”
Since the project first launched three years ago, over 70 students have gotten the opportunity to strengthen their skills through hands-on internship opportunities. The college is expecting to connect at least 30 more students with internship opportunities by the end of this year.
The project was previously funded through a grant by the Iowa West Foundation; however, that grant expired in September this year. Now, through Google’s involvement, IWCC is able to continue funding the TACC Project and, in turn, continue helping its IT students turn college credit into a salary.
“Hands-on learning through internships help students absorb the technology skills needed to make a seamless transition into the workforce,” Google data center operations manager Chris Russell said. “Google is happy to play a role in the TACC program’s ability to ensure students get the training they need to be successful in their careers in computer technology.”