Information for Students

Application Procedure | Program Requirements | Program Costs | Program Caveats

Looking for a great way to spend the summer?
To travel for free to an exciting part of the world?
To add international experience to your resume?
To expand your cross-cultural skills?
To do something exciting before settling down to a life of cubicles and 9-5?
To broaden your experiences before starting graduate school?

Here is how to apply

What is TCinGC?

TCinGC is a 10-week summer program that places students as consultants working in developing and/or under-resourced communities. We work primarily with nonprofits, government ministries, NGOs, and schools.

TCinGC is similar to an internship in that it is a short-term work assignment. And for many academic programs it fulfills an internship requirement

TCinGC is different than the typical internship is a few important ways:

  • Student consultants are in a leadership position. In a typical internship, students are supervised and assigned a project to complete. TCinGC works with organizations that are looking for help understanding their technology problems as well helping to solve them. Therefore the student consultant leads a process of investigating and articulating the problem, and recommending a solution. They then work with their development partner to implement the solution in a way that is sustainable once they are gone.
  • Student consultants are provided substantial orientation and preparation before they go, and are advised throughout the summer.
  • Student consultants are supported with a process, including defined deliverables, that guides their work.

As a result, student consultants have a much richer experience than the typical internship. They work on problems that affect real people and organizations, and their work is expected to have purpose and lasting value. It is not just a learning experience.

As a returning student consultant wrote:

"Thanks to TCinGC I was able to face my own weaknesses, challenge a real life problem and propose a meaningful solution in an extreme environment. I have learned how to challenge the unknown and unexpected in a IT project. I also realized recently how hard is to find a job that is as exciting and influential as my TCinGC experience." (Boleslaw Kurowski - MISM 2011)

TCinGC does not emphasize system development. Rather, our consulting model focuses on capacity-building and creating sustainable solutions to important problems.  This approach has three keystones:

  1. Make sure a clear “problem” is being solved, and the problem is important to the mission of the organization.
  2. Focus on building-in sustainability throughout all phases of the project.
  3. Capacity-building is the foundation of sustainability, therefore build the organizations capacity to not only use the new solution, but to fully manage its operations, maintenance, and continued development.

Of course, good system development has these same goals, but in practice these organizational and people issues are often neglected. To counter this, TCinGC advises students in:

  1. Understanding their role as primarily a capacity-building consultant, not a system developer.
  2. Broadly understanding the partnering organization and its people in order to identify problems that technology might assist.
  3. Choosing to solve problems that negatively impact the mission of the organization.
  4. Solve the problems always focusing on the sustainability of the solution.

Therefore, the student consultants’ goals focus on the organization and the people.  In doing so, systems are likely to be designed and implemented.  Or commercial off-the-shelf solutions or open-source solutions will be deployed.  Or existing applications will be repurposed.  But this design, development, or implementation will be in service of a sustainable solution to an important problem.

What kind of skills are required

TCinGC focuses on technology broadly defined. This of course includes the disciplines of computer science, information systems, HCI, information security, computer engineering, and software engineering. But we also include advanced computer applications and technology planning. Advanced computer applications could include geographic information systems (GIS), advanced creative applications such as Adobe products and Final Cut Pro, sophisticated data analysis tools, or if the situation calls for it, simply Microsoft Excel. Technology planning can range from planning computer purchases to defining national information management policies.

We work to find excellent matches between great students and interesting problems. So if you have interest and some skills, apply and lets us see what is possible.

Where are positions available?

Partnerships for the coming summer are still under development. We will return to many of our partnerships of the past year, and some new partnerships are being explored. (If you have contacts that you think might be interested in being a TCinGC development partner, please let us know.)

Therefore you are applying to the program, not to a particular position, country, partnership, or project. When you do so, we ask about your interests. If we find a good match we would offer it to you and see if you think it is a good match also.

How are we matched with positions?

We review applications and identify those that make the first-cut based on a number of experience factors. We then review each of our development partnerships and look for the student or students who best fit their needs. At that point we would interview the applicant(s) to get a more detailed understanding of their strengths and interests and to gauge which would be the best fit for the development partner. We would make an offer and give the applicant a short period of time to accept or reject the offer. If accepted, then the student would co-sign the Memorandum of Understanding along with a representative of the development partner and Carnegie Mellon.

What if I am graduating in May?

Graduating students are eligible as long as they are willing to make the commitment to produce a final consulting report and to provide occasional remote technical support for one month after their return.

I have additional questions

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Here is how to apply