Perhaps one of the biggest challenges university students face is what to do after university. With a diploma in hand, they venture into the working world, which can be a difficult experience for the unprepared.

IUPUI’s Department of Computer and Information Science has set out to change that for their graduates while simultaneously supporting a pipeline of talent to companies in Central Indiana. The Computer Science Industry Partnership Program (CSIPP) is an effort to better unite the skills and talent coming from universities with the needs and opportunities present in tech companies. 

CSIPP reveals more about local tech to students 

Even though the vast majority of the department’s students hail from Indiana, many students entered their various majors in the Department of Computer and Information Science without much knowledge of Indiana’s technology sector. Without prior knowledge or an easy on-campus way to access it, students looking for internships and graduates seeking jobs would search outside the state for opportunities. By connecting students with companies through university means, CSIPP works to educate students about internships and jobs available to them here in the state.

Tech companies based in Indiana or those with major in-state operations join CSIPP, and as members they can meet with students and host programs throughout the academic year. Job fairs tend to be popular options, but companies often take it upon themselves to host students for on-site visits or meetups on-campus. The university’s student-run computer science club has also pushed strongly to connect companies and students, using CSIPP as a vehicle for broader reach.

The program has already seen some early success. Shiaofen Fang, interim dean of the Purdue School of Science, which houses the computer science department, has witnessed a massive transformation in retaining students in-state for internships. He estimated that when CSIPP began two years ago, 80-90% of students in his department went out-of-state for internships. This past summer, about 90% of students stayed in-state for internships. 

While Dean Fang is still reviewing the internship data for trends, he feels the relationships between companies and students were critical to this successful reversal. “The students are more aware of the local tech sector. We have partners who come to campus, and they talk to students,” he said. “So, when students are looking for internships, the first place they go is to those partners.”

Companies become champions for local tech talent

One such partner company is Carmel-based SEP. Through several touchpoints with the Department of Computer and Information Science, the company was connected to CSIPP and became an enthusiastic program partner. The program offers ways to bring in new talent that removes barriers to entry–both for students and the company. 

“While we have the best intentions of reaching out to students, our recruiting efforts are done by our engineers, and scheduling things isn’t always top of mind,” said Leif, a software engineer at SEP who helps manage the company’s side of CSIPP. “It’s great to have someone in IUPUI letting us know how we can help and about opportunities to engage.”

SEP is beginning its first year in CSIPP but is already working on scheduling on-campus information sessions and a site tour for interested students. “SEP isn’t a big company that students are likely to hear about as part of their day-to-day, so we’re hoping that we can introduce the students to SEP and our style of software consulting,” said Leif. “That way they know something about us and can decide if this is a type of place they’d like to work.”

In terms of measurable success, SEP representatives are thinking strategically about how CSIPP positions the company in front of students and the tech community. “We’re looking for a long-term relationship between SEP and IUPUI where we help students grow their software interests and show them all the opportunities in development,” said Leif.

SEP is one of a handful of companies that are already members, and while the university plans to grow CSIPP, it’s doing so with great consideration. The university seeks out active partners who seriously take on the responsibility and make it an important part of their overall company strategies.

For both the university and its partner companies, the end goal is to keep talented students working in-state. “We hope to provide a long-term Indiana home to some great students who might otherwise not know what possibilities are available,” said Leif.

Discover more about CSIPP.