Co-Op Feature with Conor Ahern

May 26, 2020

REDCOM routinely has co-op and internship opportunities available for college students that want to earn real-world experience at a technology company. Our engineering department finds it particularly important to bring these young engineers into the mix for their new perspectives and ideas. At REDCOM, co-op students collaborate directly with our product development teams and are often involved in truly meaningful projects.

Conor Ahern, a Computer Science Major at the Rochester Institute of Technology and co-op on REDCOM’s Secure Client product team, started as an intern and is staying on the team through the summer.

Immediately upon joining the team as an intern, Conor was welcomed as a valued part of the organization, and was able to make real contributions from the beginning, “I’ve had a great experience as a co-op for REDCOM. On only my second or third day, they had already given me things to do, like fixing bugs and helping add features,” Conor remarked.

Initially interested in looking for co-op opportunities at larger tech companies, Conor found REDCOM, and he’s ultimately grateful that he did. “Starting at a small company like REDCOM allowed me to get working right away and learn so much more than I would have at a large company.” He also mentioned how REDCOM’s tightly-knit team made his experience much more fulfilling, “One of the biggest takeaways from my experience is learning how to decide on product decisions with the team, and how to deliberate, discuss, and compromise. No class in school can teach you how to work with a real team, with one end goal in mind, which is making the best product possible.”

REDCOM’s Vice President of Engineering, Jeff Smith, mentions the important role co-ops play within the organization. “These students are smart and eager to learn and contribute – we are learning from them, and they bring in fresh eyes and new ideas,” he remarks. “As Conor can attest to, you’re put to work right away alongside the full-time employees when starting as a co-op at REDCOM. We want to make them full members of the team as quickly as possible with assignments that are integral to the success of the project they are working on. When we are recruiting, I like to tell students that if you came into a team meeting halfway through a co-op assignment, you often can’t tell who’s a co-op and who’s a full-time employee.”

Allan Bennett, Conor’s supervisor, appreciates the contributions of young co-ops like Conor. “They immediately contribute to our Android, iOS, and Windows clients by analyzing code and fixing defects. They participate in daily standups, planning and estimation meetings and demonstrate their work in sprint reviews. From the day they report, co-ops become full and equal members of an agile development team.”

Now, working hard on his team’s current project redesigning the Windows Secure Client Interface with REDCOM’s UX Designer Jim, Conor is excited to see this project through to the end. “Being able to work with everyone on such an important project right from the beginning makes you interested in, and really care about seeing that end result.”

REDCOM has had a steady stream of co-ops throughout the years, several who have transitioned into full-time REDCOM employees. Others took their valuable experience at REDCOM and moved on to important roles at major tech companies. If you’re a college student in the IT, software development, web development, engineering, or cybersecurity disciplines and you’re looking for real-world, on-the-job experience, REDCOM would love to talk to you.