In today’s competitive job market, graduates are always searching for ways to set themselves apart from peers to be a more attractive applicant. For students interested in web programming, develop or E-commerce, Western’s Internet Studies Center might be an end to the search.
Founded in 1999, the ISC is a program that provides technical and non-technical web skills to students from all majors and concentrations. The ISC offers a minor in Internet Studies as well as three different certificates that students can pursue and receive upon graduation from Western to supplement any degree.
“The idea is to provide students, whatever their major is, the web skills which are going to make them marketable in the future,” ISC Director Martin Granier said. “Students of all categories should be able to have some sort of web skills.”
Before deciding on one of the three certification tracks – Content Development, Web Programming and E-commerce Development – students take three foundation courses: CSCI 102, CSCI 202 and MIS 314. These three courses familiarize students with various computer languages such as Java, html, xhtml and flash as well as educate them on both the client and server side of computer programming.
Granier said that the three ISC certificates are versatile and they are designed to bridge the gap between one’s major and the web skills applicable to it. Students can potentially earn all three certificates if they meet all the prerequisites.
“We work very closely with a number of departments because by design, this program is very interdisciplinary,” Granier said. “We want pull from all students.”
Granier said the Web Programming certification, which consists of CSCI 342 and CSCI 442, is a more technical track tailored toward computer science majors. Web Programming encompasses skills such as database analysis and scripting methods.
The Content Development certification is broken down into five major-oriented tracks designed for art, communications, English, journalism, and marketing majors. Students within the Content Development track focus on the writing and design of web development specific to their major.
Chris Sandvig, a professor of decision sciences, teaches MIS 324 and MIS 424, the two courses specific to the E-commerce Developer Certification. He said that while the track is popular among a variety of majors, the certification pulls marketing and management information systems majors in particular. This certification focuses on large-scale website management as well as the practices around online transactions and sales.
The ISC program culminates with CSCI 403, an internship or practicum that all ISC students must take in order to receive their minor or certificate. The ISC has helped match up students with more than 500 internships, both paid and unpaid with organizations, nonprofits and campus entities in order to provide real-world experience with the application of relevant web skills.
Senior Jon Geller, a decisions science major with a concentration in management information systems, will graduate this spring with an E-commerce certificate from the ISC. His internship consisted of designing inventory management software for use by University Residences.
“One thing I learned from the ISC was how to really touch base with a customer,” Geller said. “Come into a situation almost completely cold, pick up needs quickly, build context, understand what their problem areas are and how to act on those and how to give them the best product possible.”
Geller was recently hired as an associate consultant for Microsoft after presenting a project he did in an MIS class that was a part of the E-commerce certification track. Following his graduation this June, Geller will move to Dallas to start his six-month training for the position.
“The ISC has the best of every possible world when it comes to web development,” Geller said. “You’re going to learn how to do design, you’re going to learn how to do coding, and it’s going to teach you how to be versatile and how to really enjoy your work. One of the best things about this is once you’re finished with the courses, you are able to go into a career.”