From Co-op to Career
Computer science student Joanna Pedretti didn’t go to college immediately after graduating from high school—she took a gap year. But rather than backpacking around Europe or having an “eat, pray, love” experience on the other side of the globe, she underwent and recovered from two knee surgeries. While not quite the gap year some might envision, Pedretti’s extended time off allowed her to practice coding projects online—ultimately leading her to discover which career path she wanted to follow.
Always excelling in math, she had a suspicion that she would pursue a STEM-related degree in college. Pedretti solidified her choice during her gap year after reading an article about quantum physics that mentioned quantum computing. She was drawn to New York Tech when she learned what the College of Engineering and Computing Sciences had to offer. When the college launched New York Tech’s first cooperative education (co-op) track in 2022, Pedretti became a part of the inaugural cohort of students after Senior Specialist of Industry Relations Peter Goldsmith, who manages the co-op track, sent out the résumés of those who wished to participate to companies looking to employ students.
After meeting with potential employers and going through a few rounds of interviews, Pedretti landed a six-month, full-time position with software development company InterSoft Associates, based in Lynbrook, N.Y. Pedretti interned as a full stack developer, where she worked on building the user-facing and behind-the-scenes ends of applications. During her time with InterSoft, she learned the more intricate elements of software development, and worked hands-on with a variety of coding languages, both familiar and new; skills she says she’s excited to incorporate into her classwork and future career.
“I was able to fully immerse myself in the internship and not have to worry about keeping my grades up at the same time,” says Pedretti, referring to the fall semester she was able to take off from New York Tech to pursue her co-op work. “After my internship experience, I believe I’ve gained more time-management skills that will help me work part-time while being a full-time student again.”
Following six months of learning the company’s coding and building a rapport with her coworkers and supervisors, Pedretti was offered a part-time position with InterSoft. Now, while back on campus as a full-time student, she continues to work on the client application she became most familiar with during her co-op.
“The client has gotten to know me, and they trust that I will continue to do good work on their project since they have seen the work I produced during my co-op cycle,” she says.
Pedretti looks back fondly on her co-op. While nervous at first to find a student-work opportunity, she says the co-op track was invaluable in helping her prepare for interviews, find a company to work with, and beef up her résumé with real-world experience.
Looking Toward Her Future
“I really enjoy how creative you get to be with programming,” says Pedretti, who serves as treasurer for the New York Tech Quantum Computing Club. “Once you know a few coding languages, the possibilities are endless for what you can build.”
Part of the accelerated master’s degree program, Pedretti will return to New York Tech’s Long Island campus for one more year to earn her master’s degree in data science after graduating in fall 2023 with her bachelor’s degree in computer science.
“I would love to have the opportunity to work on a real quantum computer one day. I think interning as a software developer with InterSoft has already begun to help me achieve this goal,” says Pedretti. “No matter where I am working, I hope that my work can have a positive effect on the world and be used to help people. It would be nice for my code to one day be used to help scientists achieve their goals and make new discoveries.”
When she’s not at work or in class, Pedretti can be found working with College of Arts and Sciences’ Assistant Professor of Physics Yusui Chen and the Quantum Computing Club in their efforts to create an algorithm that efficiently solves Rubik’s Cube using a quantum computer. She and the team will be presenting their research at SOURCE (Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression) in April 2023.