App to it

McHenry County College student Emily Rainer landed an internship working on mobile applications for Lextech. She is one of four students in the first graduating cohort at the college to earn an associate degree in mobile design and development. (Photo: MCC)

When McHenry County College (MCC) student Emily Rainer enrolled in MCC’s mobile design development program, her new knowledge and high-level skills enabled her to start working in her career even before she graduates this week.

She is one of four students in the first graduating cohort at the Illinois college to receive an associate in applied science degree in mobile design and development. The program began in 2016.

Only a year after enrolling in the mobile design and development program, Rainer was accepted into an internship at Lextech in Downer’s Grove, Illinois. She brings with her many technical skills, including the programming language Swift and the software Xcode that she uses on a daily basis at her internship for iOS development.

“My programming instructor, Bill Skrzypczak, got me in contact with Lextech,” Rainer said. “I went through several interviews and was given the internship. It was supposed to be only for the summer, but it turned into a year and hopefully, a full-time position this upcoming summer when I graduate.”

Texas roots

Rainer started learning video game development while a student at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, where she lived at the time.

“I fell in love with programming and right away. I knew mobile was going to become a huge part of everyone’s lives and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said. “I had a lot of ideas for mobile applications and wanted to start programming them, but didn’t have the knowledge. So, I moved to Illinois seeking new opportunities and researched colleges in search of a degree.

“I came across MCC’s mobile application development degree and it really caught my eye because it is a unique program that I had never seen offered before.” Rainer said. “I knew it was the right path to take.”

In addition to taking a full-time load of courses at MCC, working at her internship, she works part time as a supervisor at CVS. In her spare time, she has been creating a video game that she hopes people can soon download from the App store. Her own “Astro Venture” game features a side-scrolling format, similar to the Mario game, but has a space theme. Once in the store, it will be a free-to-play game in beta while she creates more features and levels for the users.

When asked what her favorite part about mobile application development is, she said, “It’s portable and it plays a major part in making people’s lives easier. It’s always expanding and becoming more advanced.”

Rainer said her internship has expanded her knowledge and she is gaining valuable job experience.

“My knowledge on application development has greatly increased,” she said. “I’ve learned new languages, new software, communicating with clients and working as part of a team. I’m learning something new every day.”

Additionally, she learned the language Java and the software Android Studio that she said came in handy when she switched to a project that needed help on their Android application.

“There are many other things that I’ve learned and use all the time, such as creating API’s, storing information in Core data and on databases, and creating user interfaces,” Rainer said.

What the employer wanted

Aric Roush, vice president of Solution Delivery at Lextech, said the skills needed in the mobile app industry are communication skills, both written and oral, and technical competency in a chosen specialty. Rainer works with the iOS operating system at Lextech.

“Emily’s contributions when working with a client project team have been instrumental in helping us lay a strong foundation for future work, where we can easily reference what we’ve done and make informed technical choices,” Roush said.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, employment of software developers is projected to grow 17 percent through 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The main reason for the rapid growth is a large increase in the demand for computer software.

About the Author

Donna Bieschke
is a marketing communications specialist at McHenry County College in Illinois.