A group of 23 from the Carnegie Mellon University—Rwanda Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) travelled across Africa this summer 2013 in an international internship program plying their tech skills at companies ranging from IBM and Microsoft to Visa and Marriott.
An international internship is a first-class ticket to success as more global companies seek workers armed with innovative problem-solving skills, resiliency and adaptability to new cultures and business practices.
“Every CMU-R student should aspire to have an internship in a Fortune 500 company because it is the best eye-opening world-class experience I have ever received, and it has inspired my dreams of tomorrow,” said Kevin Rudahinduka, a student in CMU in Kigali, who completed his summer internship at Visa in South Africa.
More than 60 percent of college seniors complete some kind of professional internship before graduation, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employees’ Class of 2013 study, and most of the students in CMU’s engineering master’s degree programs work as industry interns for a summer.
“As more companies set up shop in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, we see our students as invaluable resources to improve the region’s economic growth,” said Michel Bezy, associate director at CMU-Rwanda and a distinguished service professor in the Engineering and Public Policy Department at CMU.
In 2011, CMU became the first U.S. university to offer graduate engineering degree programs in Rwanda, a tech-savvy East African country building a knowledge-based economy.
“We see these internships as an important part of our educational package because operating in a global market requires students who are familiar with international business acumen said Bruce Krogh, head of the CMU-Rwanda program and a professor of electrical and computer engineering.
He added that an international internship is a win-win, because leading companies get to see new talent they may want to hire and the students learn from working in different countries and new environments.
Krogh said in 2014, CMU-Rwanda will complement the MSIT degree with an additional master’s degree program in electrical and computer engineering.
CMU-Rwanda’s multidisciplinary curriculum, which spans everything from mobile applications, information security and networking to software management, was put to good use this summer as students applied classroom work to business needs.
Other IBM interns like Andrew Kinai praised the internship program for its diversity. “I got to work with teams in Japan, India and the U.S. supporting me in my project. This diversity creates a good environment to learn from skilled individuals with diverse backgrounds,” Kinai said.
Bezy said Kinai’s project is important because it will help us better understand Africa and the link between tribal knowledge and innovation, technology adoption.
In 2007, Rwanda was named East Africa’s leading information technology nation by the United Nations and has continued to spearhead IT development in the region.
“Rwanda has invested heavily in technology infrastructure, and prioritized the development of IT skills in the national education agenda, and our internship program is an excellent addition to those ongoing efforts for Rwanda to become a knowledge-based economy by 2020,” Krogh said.
Carnegie Mellon is a private global University, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts.