Thursday, September 23, 2010

Student work experience and placements - When is time money?

by Forensic Focus columnist, Sam Raincock

Sam Raincock is an IT and telecommunications expert witness specialising in the evaluation of digital evidence. She also provides training and IT security consultancy.
Throughout the world, there has been a recent surge in students studying computer forensics. Some courses encourage placement years or work experience to allow students to expand on their academic knowledge and obtain some practical experience.

Times haven’t changed. I remember as an undergraduate I was delighted to work in IT placements for an investment bank. However, as I look back now, what do internships/placements really provide the company employing you? Are the projects you work on as a student worth any money?

Now that I reflect on my own placements – what did they really get for their money? I believe the main gain was a 6 month interview process with no commitment to hire me at the end. That’s a good deal for a company looking for the very best candidates and with the cash flow to find them.

What did I get from them? Well I received a salary and at the time that’s what I mainly valued. However, now when I consider what I really obtained, I realise I actually gained something far more valuable and costly to them – I received the time of some of their most talented staff.

In the world of forensics, for students looking to gain work experience or placements it’s quite a grim situation with few places available and high competition. Unlike computing placements where a company may provide a student with a coding project or assign them to IT support, the forensic world is all about looking at case evidence, most of which involves legal or confidential matters. This may induce issues surrounding appropriate justification of the skillset and experience of the person conducting the work. In some situations, a firm may not be able to rationalise a student working on a case. Hence, a lot of forensic firms do not hire placement students...


No comments: