Discover code_orange program offers opportunity to interns


Gerald Blazey, vice president for research and innovation partnership, speaks with Discover Director Jennifer Joseph during the code_orange program grand opening.

By Taher Zeitoun

DeKALB – Code_orange program opens its doors to interested technology savvy NIU students, with an open house Wednesday. 

Many tech savvy students showed up to take a tour of the space and learn more about the program offered by NIU. Joel Suchomel, vice president of Discover financial services, who is responsible for creating the partnership with the university, was in attendance.

Suchomel said seeing the growth among the interns is one of the many positive factors regarding the program. He also said the passion students bring to the Discover team creates hope for potential career positions in the future.

“When the students first started they did not have much experience and struggled a little bit, but after only two weeks progress was made and one of the teams created a functioning log in page used in the open-house,” Suchomel said.

Katie Berendt, junior electric engineering major, who is an intern with the code_orange program, greeted students at the open house and helped guide them to the login page she helped create.

Berendt said she always loved playing video games and her interest in them is what motivated her to find out how they are made.

Berendt said the code_orange program is one of the best internships she has been apart of. She also said the work environment is extremely friendly and provides freedom, flexibility and creativity.

“It’s exciting to see that the projects we are working on here are actually being used for events like the open house Wednesday,” Berendt said. “Working on projects which are used in the real world not only gives you valuable experience but also provides a sense of pride as a programmer.”

Berendt also said Discover focuses on students’ growth within their team and creating valuable relationships with fellow interns.

Cameron Bedenoch, senior computer science major, said he plans on using the internship opportunity to potentially work with Discover after graduation. He said Discover is providing him with the chance to work with newer technology, which uses a higher language of programming code, which he said can be defined as the optimal computing software used to create code.

Nick Russo, senior computer science major, said having the program workspace on campus is a huge benefit for him.

“I have many classes throughout the day and during the hour breaks in between I am able to walk over put in some hours for my internship,” Russo said.

Russo said before the internship he did not know a lot of fellow students within his major and code_orange provided him with a social network in which he is able to meet students with the same interests.

Russo said when he first started, Discover provided tutorials and videos to teach him aspects of coding he might not have been familiar with. He also said the program provides vital resources like a Macbook to perform their work on.

Tyler Havener, senior computer science major, said having this internship is key in preparing for life after college. He also said code_orange provides him with more than just valuable resources and a creative workspace.

“A lot of students don’t learn enough about their major through their classes, so programs like code_orange help remove the post graduation jitters of entering the career field of their choice,” Havener said. “Discover is providing an internship which not only teaches but also prepares and is huge for students nervous about graduating.”

Russo said the courses offered in the computer science program use the right methodology of teaching but the tools are outdated. He said newer technologies like smartphones require more innovative coding programs to help the software run more efficiently.

Havener said Discover is providing them with high quality coding programs which are effective in creating code for newer technologies.

Suchomel said the best way to describe the vision and idea behind the code_orange program is through a three pronged model.

“First you have work for a corporation and gain experience, second the university benefits by providing this opportunity and third Discover has access to young brilliant minded individuals who are able to learn career culture,” Suchomel said.