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Some InStep interns at the Mysore campus in front of the Murthy Centre of Excellence Some InStep interns at the Mysore campus in front of the Murthy Centre of Excellence Supplied Featured

The struggling IT education industry is receiving a much-needed boost thanks to Infosys and its InStep program, sending university students across the globe to boost their employability.

University of Sydney student David Farias is one such student; currently undergoing his final year of a 5-year double degree in Software Engineering and Mathematics, he'll be looking for a job as his education comes to a close.

As part of his third year requirements, Farias needed to complete a 12-week internship, and InStep 'stepped in' to allow him to travel to India to complete a hands-on programming internship.

Indian tech and business multinational Infosys first established its InStep internship program in 1999 and each year offers 175 students from elite universities across the globe the opportunity to take part in a 10-week internship at one of its Indian campuses where they get the valuable opportunity to work on real business problems.

From December 2012 to February 2013 Farias travelled to Bangalor, India, where he worked at Infosys in a unit that develops methods to exploit Google’s MapReduce and the Apache Hadoop file system, to port serial algorithms to a parallel domain.

According to Farias he worked in the programming lab, researching ways to optimise the process of gathering large data sets from multiple domains - the idea being that spreading the computing load across several machines will maximise results. In practical terms, the processes he was working on may allow a TV station to gather more viewer data faster for example.

"I worked on the campus for three months, and it really was a great experience, InStep connected me with a bunch of other IT students from around the world and a lot of great staff and team members, and overall you get an international experience, it's a cultural thing too," Farias said.

"I haven't got a job lined up yet, I'm in the process, but I've got some options and the InStep program has helped with my employability I think. It's a big misconception that if you study IT you then have to become a software or hardware developer, but every industry has IT options. InStep is one program that helps but both the private sector and the government could be doing a lot more," he told iTWire.

It's no big secret that enrolments in IT at university are down, and as we reported last month a quarter of IT graduates in 2012 didn't end up with full time employment.

"More of these programs would definitely be an advantage," Farias said.

"Actually getting people to enrol in university the first place has become a struggle, half the battle is trying to get people to ask questions like 'how does this work or how can I make this better', and that will lead people naturally to a career in IT."

Wayne Wobcke, Associate Professor, School of Computer Science and Engineerining at the University of New South Wales, agrees.

"It's getting people in the door in the first place which is the big challenge," he said.

"We do things like a Robocup, mindstorms, school visits... but potentially that's only attracting people who are already interested in computing. We need to do more, we all do. We need to somehow better publicize the work that IT people dp, for example we should approach careers advisors in schools to help them understand what the industry is like these days.

"We have a predicted shortfall of graduates in the future, we'll be having all these problems in the future that we don't even know exist yet, so we need good graduates who will help solve them."

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is also onboard with the InStep program, given his government is a major partner in its success.

“To build knowledge economy of New South Wales, we must continue to invest in programs that attract, retain and provide practical skills for students undertaking ICT careers,” said Premier O’Farrell.

“InStep NSW offers the kind of cultural and professional enrichment that will help develop future innovation leaders for Australia.”

More information about the Infosys InStep NSW program, which won the National Council for Work Experience (NCWE) Award for 'Work Placement of the Year 2012,' can be found here.

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