As a sophomore, computer science major Avneet Sethi wasn’t sure how her passion for programming would translate to the workplace. An internship a year later showed her a clear path forward.
As a rising junior in the summer of 2018, Sethi interned at Atlanta-based NCR Corp., which makes self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, ATMs and other products for banks, restaurants and retailers.
Sethi started her internship by testing ATM applications in collaboration with a group of engineers in Hyderabad, India. Later, she integrated analytics into an application to determine which features are used most often in retail transactions and got to make some of those updates.
The experience allowed Sethi to work on complex programming problems and convinced her that she belongs in the tech industry.
“The internship gave me so much confidence,” Sethi said. “I feel like I can take on any task. Every day I got a higher level of confidence because of the work I was doing.”
The partnership between NCR and the College of Arts & Sciences is one of several the college has developed to expand opportunities for students to get workplace experience while earning a degree. The program can also help some students secure a job offer before graduation. Sethi, for example, will join NCR after graduation in July and hopes to eventually work in management at the company.
NCR has provided funding for scholarships to Georgia State students majoring in certain science, technology, engineering and math fields, primarily computer science.
NCR University Relations recruiting manager Tony Burdett calls Georgia State a “top-tier” university for recruiting new employees, and the partnership with Arts & Sciences is an integral part of that effort.
In 2018, NCR had one full-time hire from Georgia State, Burdett said. In 2019, thanks to the expanded partnership, the company hired 44 Georgia State students as full-time employees, he said.
“What I love about Georgia State is the diversity of the student population and how many first-generation college students they have,” Burdett said. “We see a tremendous work ethic, excitement and dedication to opportunities from students from Georgia State.”
John Augusto, associate dean for strategic initiatives in Arts & Sciences, said the college’s corporate partnerships are a win-win for students and employers.
The demographics and attitude of Georgia State students, he added, have been helpful in developing such partnerships.
“We have a very diverse student body,” Augusto said. “The type of students we bring into Georgia State are students who get degrees, stay in the local area and are hungry to transition into the workforce.
“We want to make sure potential employers see the value of our students,” Augusto added. “We want to make sure everyone knows how competitive our students can be.”
The college has secured other key partnerships with major employers in recent years, including The O’Briant Group, which works with Georgia State anthropology students on ethnographic research, the study of people and cultures.
Through another partnership, Wellstar Health System provides stipends for religious studies graduate students. The students work with Wellstar ethicists to provide support for people dealing with end-of-life and other challenging healthcare issues.
Facebook has established an engineer-in-residence program to help computer science students build technical skills and career readiness while supporting the social media giant’s efforts to diversify its workforce.
Burdett said Sethi’s experience is an example of how NCR benefits from its partnership with the College of Arts & Sciences.
“We get to know who we’re hiring and we also know they will be more prepared when they start working full time,” Burdett said. “When [Sethi] starts, it will be less stressful for her and she’ll do better more quickly. It’s a win-win situation.
“Our partnership is only beginning with Georgia State.”
For Sethi, the opportunity will also allow her to work with her older brother, a finance manager at NCR. He’s also a Georgia State graduate.
“I don’t take all the credit for myself,” Sethi said. “I’m so thankful for my friends, family and for the opportunities I have had at Georgia State.”