NIU, Discover mark launch of on-campus code_orange program

Discover Financial Services and Northern Illinois University recently marked the opening of the new code_orange program, an exciting initiative that is providing tech-savvy students with opportunities on the university’s campus to help research and develop new technologies for the company.

“Not only am I learning these hard computer skills, but we’re having to work in teams, we’re having to keep track of our own schedules and hold each other accountable for getting all these tasks done,” says Jane Swift, one of 37 students selected to participate in this semester’s code_orange projects.

“It’s been nothing but a really great experience so far,” she added.

Launched at the start of the semester, the code_orange program is located in “71 North,” NIU’s collaborative space for innovation in the bottom level of Founders Memorial Library. Discover, which leases its area, completely renovated its space over the summer of 2018.

Tech-savvy juniors and seniors were hired by Discover and are being paid to work on and help develop new Discover technologies in the areas of mobile-software development, web-application coding, blue-tooth development and person-to-person payment systems.

Discover will hire or rehire students for a new group of participants and a new round of projects each semester and during the summer. The company hopes to increase the number of student participants, known as Campus Innovators, to as many as 50 select students for the spring and summer of 2019.

“This initiative has had a successful launch, in part because a large number of qualified Huskies responded to the call for applications—and because Discover recognized their potential as innovators,” NIU President Lisa Freeman said. “I am confident that our partnership will be synergistic and will produce research and innovation that solves challenges, creates a more skilled workforce and enhances the future success of all participants.”

Students in the program work alongside leading professionals and apply skills learned in the classroom to address real-world business challenges. They also present their work and ideas to peers and company representatives, providing them with an opportunity to experience Discover’s company culture.

NIU alumni Glenn Schneider, chief information officer at Discover, and Joel Suchomel, vice president of application development at Discover, helped spearhead the initiative.

“We are looking at this as a feeder group into our employee base,” Schneider says. “We’re invested in making sure, as talent coming into our company, we’re allowing them to grow and continue to learn in their professional careers just like they’ve done here at Northern Illinois University.”

Learn more in the accompanying video or apply here.

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