Computer science major explores interest in technology with innovative app development firm

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Unlock any iPhone and anyone can see the multitude of apps that litter the screen. Games, social media, weather; the types of apps that one can acquire are endless. We all use these apps everyday, without fail. However, how often do we take time to think about who creates these incredible features that we take for granted?

Ryan Brandt ’16 spent a lot of time considering just this over the summer. A computer science major with an interest in app development, Brandt lived in New York City and interned with Golden Gekko, a company that specializes in “leading mobile solutions,” according to the company’s website.

“[Golden Gekko is] an iPhone and Android app development firm. They do everything from back end to front end solutions—back end meaning server-side stuff and front end meaning the interface that the customer gets to mess around with—and it was really, really fun. I had a blast,” Brandt said.

Brandt reflected on the positive, collaborative environment of his office. “It was a small office in New York City’s financial district, and six of the coolest guys I have ever had the pleasure of working with [worked with me]. The boss—John—was the man…. He ran the office in the same way [as a fraternity].”

“The office itself was amazing,” Brandt said. “[It was almost] Google-esque….They’ve got ping-pong tables, Guitar Hero, free beer on tap 24/7. Everything was rich mahogany and all the walls were glass. It was a really, really cool environment to work in for sure,” Brandt said.

Walking into the office on any given day, Brandt was not sure what to expect. Every day had something different in store, and Brandt says that this was an extremely exciting aspect about his internship. “I did several things for them….I didn’t actually write any code for them but I shadowed under the designer. He taught me a lot about the ins and outs of Photoshop and the design itself. I also shadowed the project manager, the boss himself, and of course, the sales team.”

During his time with the sales team, Brandt was responsible for matching up clientele with the particular app that Golden Gekko was working on at any particular time. “I spent a lot of my time compiling target lists for the sales team. They would tell me what they wanted to go after, and then we would compile lists of all the companies in that area, and then we would start writing emails and making cold calls, and then eventually we would get meetings.”

Brandt is not a New York City native; therefore, spending his summer in the Big Apple was a new and exciting experience for him. “New York City is an awesome place. And I think that, on one level, I was almost afraid that the fun would stop when you left college, but this internship emphatically proved me wrong. Life definitely gets more expensive in the real world, but you can even say that it gets crazier [after college] if you’re looking for it.”

In addition to experiencing life in New York City, Brandt credits his internship with Golden Gekko for helping him focus his career path: “It was really great. I felt very confident that this was the field I wanted to go into. Maybe not [the app development] field specifically, but technology definitely. Everybody was so cool, the office was so cool, it was a really casual work environment and it was all about just doing a great job and not about how you looked. I loved it. And I spent some time making my own iPhone app on the side, and I had a lot of fun with the development process. And I worked with the designer to make skins for it, and I just loved building stuff like that. So at the very least, app design will probably become a hobby.”

When looking for a summer internship, Brandt suggests finding out which family or friends are in the industry one is interested in. “For the computer science major—and I’m not sure what it’s like for the other majors—a lot of our big opportunities usually come through announcements that are sent through the computer science mailing list. Over the course of January, we got emails about the potential to work at Spotify, to work at SoundCloud,” Brandt said.

He continued, “For me personally, I just cast a super wide net and looked for a lot of stuff….I took stock of my family and asked all of my family friends if they knew people, and eventually managed to find somebody who was in the industry. I talked to him, and he was happy enough to vouch for me and then I got the internship. So I guess that would be a good strategy [for anyone] to just take stock of your own personal connections. You may not know you have them, but if you search far and wide enough, you may actually find something.”

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