Laura Ayres, a junior Computer Information Systems major at Shorter University, has been selected into a competitive internship program sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. Ayres, of Flintstone, Ga., will complete a 10-week paid internship this summer at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (CGRDC) in New London, Conn.
“The Department of Homeland Security sponsors internships in their research program to assist with ongoing research to improve their technology,” Ayres said. “They sponsor interns from undergrad and graduate programs who work all over the U.S. at different locations.”
Ayres will be working on projects to upgrade the CGRDC’s local area network. “They need all their field offices to be able to access the network and all their applications. I’ll be working to help make it easier to access and to make it more secure,” she said.
Ayres said she applied for the internship upon the recommendation of her advisor and professor Dr. Anthony Nichols, who serves as Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems in Shorter’s Robert H. Ledbetter College of Business.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Laura,” Dr. Nichols said. “It can be a life-changing and career-developing opportunity for her.”
Ayres is the first Shorter student to be selected for an internship with the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Nichols said. Ayres added that her course work in Shorter’s broad-based Computer Information Systems major has helped her develop the skills she will need to excel in this position.
“I took an Information Security course, and it was a great class,” she said. “It was fascinating and interesting, and I loved it. We looked at how hackers can get into systems and how to view the system to see when a hacker has gotten in. We explored preventative measures and learned, once you’ve found a problem, how to fix it.”
Shorter’s major in Computer Information Systems is part of the Ledbetter College of Business’ Department of Business Administration. “The degree provides a sound foundation in information technology principles and practice enabling our students to find a variety of employment opportunities,” Dr. Nichols said. “The emphasis is on application of information technologies supporting business needs, rather than the computer itself. Students earning a BS in CIS can develop skills in web and application development, systems analysis and design, database management, and IT project management.”
Though not required for graduation, internships are encouraged for all CIS majors, according to Dr. Melissa Hickman, dean of the Robert H. Ledbetter College of Business.
“Students are strongly encouraged to complete an internship as part of the requirements for the CIS degree,” Dr. Hickman said. “It complements the experiential learning experience the Ledbetter College of Business strives to provide our students. In addition, this is the best way to prepare our students for careers in their field of study and often results in job offers. We are extremely proud of Laura for going through the stringent process of obtaining such a prestigious internship and of Dr. Anthony Nichols for preparing her for this opportunity.”
Ayres, who completed an internship last summer with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, added that the experience gained in an internship is valuable in helping identify potential career paths.
“In the computer science industry, it’s very highly recommended that you get internships because it gets you job experience in the field and you can kind of see what you want to do when you graduate,” she said. “Coming in, I didn’t know if I wanted to do programming or networking or databases. Through my internship, I learned some things I didn’t want to do and some things that are kind of interesting and I’d like to learn more about.”
Ayres is the daughter of Bill and Cheryl Ayres, of Flintstone.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. Shorter is a member of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.