For Rachel Jones, combined computer science and mathematics major ’17, a co-op experience led to a steadily increasing flow of responsibilities, and most recently to a full-time post-grad placement.
Jones took a co-op position in the Fall of 2016 at Placester, which provides a platform for real estate agents to display their properties with the goal of increasing sales. She worked with the data team, pulling information from hundreds of ‘Multiple Listing Services’ servers. “There was a constant flow of bugs and issues coming in with our data,” she said. “We worked on depleting that constant flow and trying to get ahead of all these bugs.”
As her co-op progressed, she was able to steadily take on more responsibilities. “Halfway through my co-op, we moved from just handling bugs to starting to architect a new solution,” she explained. “I’ve been a part of that discussion from the very beginning…I’ve gotten to see it grow and become an actual product for the data team. This is a really new and exciting phase. Every day we come in and we’re working hard but we’re also trying to have fun solving these problems.”
Jones knew as soon as she interviewed with Placester that the job would be a good fit. In her interview, “we started talking about potential solutions and ideas. From the start I could see how it would be working there, and the problems I would get to be working on every single day. Even as a co-op I felt like a full-time employee here. The responsibilities and expectations were high, but my ideas were taken seriously and I really felt that I could make a contribution to the data team and to Placester.” After her co-op concluded in December 2016, Jones stayed on part-time during her final semester at Northeastern. In July she took on a full-time position as a software engineer.
Mike Keller works in Placester’s Chicago office as director of talent acquisition, and has been closely involved with the co-op and internship programs. He called the programs “a combination of directed learning, self-exploration, and the chance to get out of the comfort zone.”
Keller agrees with Jones that co-ops and interns become an integral part of the Placester team. “We don’t have a hundred developers,” he said, “so we have a lot of work. Whatever we come up with for the interns or co-ops is going to be relevant to the business. It has to be. There’s a lot of experience and understanding of what an agile work environment looks like. It’s not a regimented environment.”
Keller also sees the program as a key component of the talent pipeline coming into Placester. They aim to create “a super exciting environment,” he said, “so that we keep in contact with them when they go back to school, give them some side work, keep them involved. I want to build a true partnership with the school and with the students who are coming out of it. It’s very beneficial for us but it also gives them the best possible experience.”
Asked what he hopes co-ops and interns take from their experience at Placester, Keller noted that “a lot of it is what they make of it. How much effort they show in self-directed learning—feeling like you actually came in and made an impact on the business. You don’t get that everywhere. I want us to be the company where everyone comes back and says, ‘this was awesome.’”
Jones says that the highlight of working at Placester is “the people, the engineering team specifically. We’re such a tight-knit group. Everyone is so willing to help everyone else succeed and get their job done, and it’s so amazing to be around these people.”