IBM Academic Initiative Provides Real-World Experience

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fairmont State University produces well-trained, well-seasoned interns who are ready to tackle the business world.

FSU senior and Moorefield native Lucas Myers recently completed an internship with for the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area. The internship was awarded through the IBM Academic Initiative.

As an Information Systems Management major, Myers, 23, learned computer programming and database management in his FSU classes.

“My classes prepared me really well. I had the background in every phase of my internship. It took me a while to learn ‘computer-ese’—they used abbreviations I wasn’t used to,” he said.

FSU’s College of Science and Technology and School of Business participate in the initiative. The IBM Academic Initiative, which began at FSU in 2012, matches graduates’ information technology skills with workforce needs. FSU is the only college or university in West Virginia that is participating in the IBM Academic Initiative.

Myers started his internship at DTCC in June 2013 in Coppell, Texas, after applying for in the spring semester. DTCC is a post-trade financial services company that provides clearing and settlement services to the financial markets. It offers a way for buyers and sellers of securities to make their exchange in a safe and efficient way and provides central custody of securities. Myers worked on the mainframe computer side and automatic systems side, scheduling jobs on the computer. He also managed servers from the Windows side and Linux side.

“I worked five days per week and some Saturdays, too,” Myers said. “It was a paid internship. DTCC let me and another intern rent out a room in Arlington, not too far from Coppell. It’s expensive to live there, not to mention hot. The temperature was about 108 degrees every day. It took a while, but I sort of got used to it.”

He noted that DTCC’s employees, about 250 professionals at the Coppell facility, treated him well.

“They wanted my opinions on how to improve internships and business. I got a good background of how a big corporation works and the interaction between all the departments,” Myers said.

“DTCC balances nearly every bank in the United States every day and opens and closes every stock market,” Myers explained. His work required a high security clearance, including fingerprinting and a full background check.

“An internship like that definitely opens up your mind. It was a great experience. DTCC offered me a job in their ELITE program on the mainframe/distributor side. I’m not sure what I will do. I know I’m in the program and am considering my options. When I graduate next May, I hope to find a job that helps me learn more about interacting with people and helping others,” he said. “I plan to stay close to my family, but it depends on the opportunities and the job.”

Myers said he plans to meet with Dr. Frank Lee and visit Robert Morris University, where he will interview with a few different companies including J.P. Morgan Chase and Parker-Hannefin. Lee is an Associate Professor of Information Systems Management at FSU.

Lee is the IBM Academic Initiative coordinator in the School of Business at FSU who helped create the curriculum for the program.

“Our goal is to create enterprise computing. We listened to industry, created the course, trained the students and matched students with the companies. Lucas Myers is an Information Systems major. We worked on his student profile and matched him with the company, DTCC. He gained real experience with mainframe computers, security issues and databases. Companies want to hire people with experience, and Lucas Myers got that experience in his internship,” Lee said.

IBM uses the ZOS, the “Z” operating system, Lee said. “We are finding there is a demand in the market right now for the ZOS; it’s a big area right now. Many companies are complaining about the level of skill in this area. At FSU, we decided to get involved. We can train and educate the students and help them prepare for a high-salary job, at least $75,000 to start. Not just anybody can get a job like this. If students keep working on their resume and focus on growth, they can improve their chances,” he said. “Many industries here are using the IBM system. We listened to them and are finding solutions. They love it. We get all the resources from IBM. They are willing to share their resources and let the students get real experience.”

Lee said the goal at FSU is to help find jobs for students in financial and accounting companies.

“It’s interesting. Within the next few years, a majority of mainframe computing workers will retire. Those jobs will be wide open for our students. Banks, Insurance companies, and governments —all these are our potential targets. They have plenty of internships available in Pittsburgh, New York, Delaware and Texas. I talked to JP Morgan Chase and Vanguard this summer about internships with their companies,” Lee said.

Any business major can become involved in the IBM Academic Initiative, Lee said. “Any technology major is welcome, too. They can take the class.”

He said 15 students are in the program currently, and about 10 more students are added annually.

“These students are well prepared with the right track. IBM is happy with the training and education they receive. It’s a win/win situation for both IBM and FSU. I hope more students get interested here,” Lee said. “My challenge is that many students in high school are fearful of this area. Colleges are working on recruiting high schools students in this area. We give them direction, and IBM will sponsor a Career Day. When they choose this field of study, we can ensure that they will be well-trained students.”