star twitter facebook envelope linkedin instagram youtube alert-red alert home left-quote chevron hamburger minus plus search triangle x

Summer 2020 Internship Alternatives

This summer, due to the economic downturn caused by the global pandemic and subsequent reduction in hiring by many organizations, we are offering alternatives to traditional internships for Heinz College students.

Application Process

Full descriptions of internship alternatives will be posted in Handshake on April 30. Students should apply in Handshake from April 30-May 15. Internships will begin June 1 or June 8.

Students may register for as many activities as interest them. Selection notifications will be sent to students during the weeks of May 18 and 25. Every effort will be made to allow students into an activity they choose.



Several students have worked hard to raise funds for the Internship Opportunity Fund. Through these efforts, additional contributions by the College, and generous donations by our corporate partners and alumni, we will be offering stipends to all students who do not have paid summer internships, including students participating in the activities below. We believe it is important to support students this way but internship funding is extremely limited. Students may voluntarily elect to forgo all or part of the stipend so that it goes back in the fund to support other students who need it. 

Students will receive notice of their stipend award with their project assignment. All students will receive the same amount regardless of the activity they choose.

  1. Summer Program with The Digital Transformation and Innovation Center sponsored by PwC- Students interested in careers in consulting might enjoy this experience. Students will be assigned to teams coached by PwC consultants on interesting problems in the Healthcare, Retail, Entertainment, or Financial Services sectors. Students will sign up individually but will rank the sectors they prefer. Specific technical skills necessary will vary by project but outstanding analytical and communication skills are required by all. Students from all Heinz degree programs are eligible.
  2. Keith Block Entrepreneurship Competition- Students selecting this option will have the opportunity to work with a CMU faculty coach on a business or non-profit startup idea of their choice at the intersection of technology and society. Students may work individually or in teams of up to 5 students. One student from each team should register and list the names of all team members. Students will compete in a “Shark Tank” like competition during the last week of July. This experience is best suited for students who thrive in a minimally structured environment and who feel passionate about a startup idea. Students from all Heinz degree programs are eligible.
  3. Client projects- Students who want a team-based experience working with a real client might enjoy one of these options. Teams will have a CMU faculty advisor and work directly with professionals at brand name companies, non-profits, or government agencies. These projects are relatively more structured than other activities. Projects are open to degree programs unless noted otherwise.
    • Non-profit Consulting Project

      Students will work with a global consulting firm and a regional non-profit on a project to analyze the economic development consequences of COVID on western PA. The project will include an examination of the dominant industries and their supply chains and labor force demographics along with an examination of likely shifts in consumer preferences. This opportunity is best for students interested in exercising economic thinking and performing analysis “by any means necessary” rather than students who prefer ready-made data sets as there are likely few available for this ambitious project.

    • Technology Consulting Projects

      A global leader in IT services, consulting & business solutions with a large network of innovation & delivery centers is offering a number of projects to Heinz College students. All projects will involve development of a technology solution. Participants without deep technology backgrounds are encouraged but should expect to be matched with more technical teammates. Project topics are numerous and include the following topics: improving drinking water safety, optimizing energy trading, reducing wildfires, and improving employee safety.  Required skills will vary by project but will include computer vision, machine learning, Python, and business process mapping.

    • Supply Chain Disruption Projects

      A global consulting firm specializing in supply chain consulting to Fortune 500 companies in interested in examining the supply chain implications of the COVID pandemic. Specific projects will be an examination of the future of the US Postal Service, optimizing the supply and demand for personal protective equipment, and rethinking the food supply chain. Students with interest in these topics and strong analytical skills are encouraged. Strong communication skills are also recommended.

    • Government/Cybersecurity Project

      Students will work with a US Defense Department client. The objective of this capstone is to create a deployable application (such as a dashboard) that leverages a model built by the Spring 2020 students and have the dashboard reside within the federal Big Data Platform. (MISM/MSISPM US Citizens Only)

    • SEI Cyber Project

      Cybersecurity controls can be complex and expensive to implement, without true confidence that they’re achieving the desired result. Ideally, cybersecurity professionals need a mathematical model that can ingest data related to vulnerabilities, threats, impacts, and uncertainty and provide an optimized security stack design. This model would provide cost-effective means to mitigate cyber risks in a standard and rigorous manner based upon mathematical objectivity. This research effort challenges students to research formal methods and construct a model that can test the sufficiency of a cyber control or controls for a given threat environment. If possible, synthetic use cases would also be proposed to demonstrate the functionality of the model. (MSISPM Only)

    • Customer Churn Project

      A world-leading manufacturer of product packaging solutions is interested in engaging a Heinz team on the problem of predicting customer churn. Analytically-inclined students will examine customer data to unearth patterns and interactions which trigger customers to leave. Data available to the students will include: Service incident data, Customer attribute data, product hierarchy data, Sales Calls, Service Calls, Service workorder outcome/metadata, Customer Service/Tech Support Calls, Opportunities, Pricing/Marketing Communications, NPS, etc. Skills required include Machine Learning, Econometrics, and Business Process Mapping. (MISM, BIDA, PPM-DA.  Others with deep interest may be considered)

    • Software Development Project

      A Pittsburgh-based technology firm has developed software for use in manufacturing settings and is interesting in exploring the migration from a rules based engine to artificial intelligence models. The objective of the project is to develop a machine learning model or different models, based on the parameters that will be shared with the student. The students will be asked to work on different models when some of the features cannot be taken into account. This happens to be the real-world example as every customer is different and not all the parameters apply to all customers. Skills required are data visualization, ML, and Java. (MISM or BIDA only)

    • Social Media Reporting For a Global PR Agency

      A leading global PR agency for Fortune 100 brands. Their upper management executive is interested in working with a university data and technology team to help build an internal tool that will save countless hours and endless frustration on the part of junior associates and interns. For global PR firms like this one,, client campaigns often result in up to 15,000 articles, and notable social media mentions. Reporting on these PR mentions is a core function of of this global PR agency, but doing so requires manual logging into an excel spreadsheet. The VP of Technology envisions a program that can scan through social media and news articles to automatically categorize articles based on keywords, date, publication, and other relevant information. They are open to methodologies, end-user workflows, and integrations. This project is an exciting opportunity to work with technology leadership at a large company to solve a significant problem while having the freedom to explore different methods and approaches. This global PR firm is looking to create a positive learning experience for students working on this project. They will provide regular communication, access to key staff, and any relevant data to help with the project.

    • Leveraging machine learning for building recommendation systems in scholarly publishing

      A Professional organization (PO) has over 5 million research articles, e-books, and standards documents that are accessed by researchers and engineers worldwide as part of their research workflow. Almost 10 million downloads of their articles occur on a monthly basis. World-class researchers and authors publish their work in PO's journals and conference proceedings. Research publishing is very competitive and is backed with a high-quality peer-review process. Thus, strong recommendation engines serve several new use cases, both for the author and the publisher. The objective is to build a recommendation systems using state-of-the-art ML clustering models

  4. Faculty Research Assistantships- Heinz College faculty have identified 40 research assistant positions which are being posted to Handshake and being funded out of their own research programs. This generosity enables students to have paid internships with extraordinary scholars, working on interesting questions.  Note: research assistantships are paid hourly by CMU and are not eligible for the IOF stipend.
  5. Opportunities for CMU-A students- Students in our CMU Australia program who require an internship as part of their program requirements will be presented with a number of high quality opportunities by CMU-A leadership over the next few weeks. CMU-A students are also eligible for stipend support.
Summer Internship Funding Options and Important Information

Students with Internships at External Organizations (not CMU)

  • Federal Community Service Work Study (FCSWS) - U.S. Citizens with confirmed internships with non-profit or public sector organizations eligible for FCSWS should work with Stamatis Marinos ( to apply for Federal funding paid at $15/hour.
  • Internship Opportunity Fund (IOF) - Students with confirmed internships with external organizations (not FCSWS-eligible) who feel that they need additional support beyond what they will be paid (or not paid) by the internship organization may apply for supplemental funding via the Internship Opportunity Fund (IOF) application in Handshake. Students that actively participated in the fundraising for IOF and demonstrate financial need, will receive preference on their applications when the funds are distributed.  The application will be available until May 15, 2020.  Students will be informed of their IOF award via email during the week of May 18-22, 2020.

Students with Internships at CMU

  • Students with confirmed internships with CMU faculty, research centers, etc. will be paid $15/hour via CMU payroll.
  • Students selected for the Carnegie Mellon Digital Transformation and Innovation Center sponsored by PwC Summer Program will be paid $15/hour for at least 200 hours beginning in mid-June.

Students Opting for Alternative Internship Opportunities

  • Students opting for any of the Alternative Internship Opportunities (with the exception of PwC project) detailed in Dean Krishnan’s email from Sunday, April 26, 2020 will be eligible to apply for funding from Heinz College. Students should submit application(s) in Handshake for the opportunities of interest to them prior to the May 15, 2020 deadline.  Students will be informed of the internship placement and stipend amount via email during the week of May 18-22, 2020.

Important Payroll Information for All Students

  • Payroll has eliminated the option of paper paycheck distribution for CMU employees (including students). Students must elect to receive their pay via direct deposit or Wisely Pay Paycard.    Students not already enrolled in direct deposit must select the pay card option.

Important Information for International Students

  • International students should consult for up to date information.
  • CPT dates for Summer 2020 are: May 18, 2020 to Aug 7, 2020.
  • The Office of International Education will be processing CPT I-20s for the Summer for international students accepting internship offers at external organizations (including remote work). Students must complete the mandatory CPT e-learning course prior to submitting the CPT authorization I-20 request via MyOIE Portal
  • International students accepting internship opportunities with CMU as the employer are not required to apply for CPT authorization.
  • All international students in paid internships (CMU and External) will be required to submit Form I-9 to their employer. An SSN is not required for Form I-9.  Students are permitted to begin work before receiving the SSN unless restricted by company policy.
  • Upon the Social Security Administration offices reopening, supervisor works with student to fill in “Request for SSN” form. Student submits the form to OIE for review and approval.  Student is then responsible for submitting the “Request for SSN’ form to the Social Security Administration when those offices reopen.
  • Once student receives the SSN, they are required to update the employer before employment ends. For students working at CMU, please update the HR Service Center
  • What about students who already have an internship?

    Students with another full time internship should not participate in these activities. Exceptions should be discussed with your program director.

  • What if I have a short duration internship with an outside firm- can I still participate in one of these activities?

    In general, yes. Your first obligation should be to your internship employer and if you have time to take on an additional activity, you may apply. Stipend funding is due to the generosity of donors and is limited. We kindly ask that students who have a summer salary from another organization not ask for stipend support from CMU. 

  • How are these stipends going to be distributed?

    After the IOF funds and student needs are calculated, the IOF fund will be divided equally among students requiring support. Stipends will be distributed to students starting in June.

  • What is the work expectation?

    Students should plan to invest approximately 200 hours of effort. Students may choose to invest much more and should discuss expectations with their advisors and clients.

  • I volunteered for IOF - will I still receive IOF funds?

    Yes, of course IOF volunteers who require it will receive a stipend. Their effort, in part, allowed us to take the extraordinary step of offering stipends and internships to all students. We thank these volunteers and hope all of you will do the same. 

  • What if I'm awaiting word on another opportunity?

    Your first priority should be to secure a traditional internship.  We left the application window sufficiently wide (April 30-May 15) that you have time to withdraw if you find something before May 15.  Historically, few internships are secured after May 15.  If you do receive an offer after May 15, please discuss with your career advisor.  Many companies have generously committed to working with you and it harms the College’s relationships and the career prospects of future students if students retract interest after May 15. 

  • There are so many choices, how do I decide?

    Good question.  We do not want to limit students’ ability to apply to all that interest them but a sound strategy would be to apply to only one if it is a dominant choice for you.  If you are truly indifferent between several options, apply to all that interest you. 

  • Do these opportunities only accept a limited number of applications?

    We will accept all applications but the “Client projects” (item #3 above) will have a cap on the number of students we can place on each team. If more students apply to a particular opportunity than there are spots available, we will do our best to match students to projects based on their backgrounds and interests.