Information Technology major thrives in School of Information Technology focused co-op program

Third year student Anthony Vella on fast track to success reflects on previous co-op rotations as he prepares for his fourth.

Anthony Vella with Intuit CEO Brad Smith

Anthony Vella with Intuit CEO Brad Smith

By: Michelle Mondillo
Date: 3/15/2016

With three co-ops completed, a fourth lined up this summer, and an independent contracting business in full swing, Anthony Vella has secured a spot on the fast track for success.  Vella, a third year Information Technology major in the Software Development track, is part of the IT + Accelerated program, where he will complete both his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Master of Business Administration in five years.  The School of Information Technology (SoIT) and the co-op program have provided him with the tools necessary to thrive in the professional workplace.  Vella claims his multiple rounds of co-op have confirmed what he has known since he was nine: an intrigue for computer functionality and design that would land him a professional place in the world of IT.

For his first three co-op rotations, Vella flew cross-country to Mountain View, California, headquarters of Intuit (TurboTax).  In the summer of 2014 and fall of 2015 he worked on the Payroll Mobile team as a full-time developer.  Spring 2015 he moved over to the GoPayment team, which he considers to be his most influential rotation yet.  His team was responsible for completely re-designing the GoPayment iOS app which is used by millions of customers each day.  “Being able to work with cutting-edge technology assisted by my teammates was the highlight of my experience because it empowered the entire team to learn together, which I believe sprouted fantastic results.”

Vella representing Super Evil MegaCorp at the Twitchcon event in San Francisco

Vella representing Super Evil MegaCorp at the Twitchcon event in San Francisco

In between co-op rotations, Vella was working on more than just classwork.  “When it comes to software development and projects that improve people's lives, I find myself working as hard as possible to finish them. If I don't know the technology I'll go out and learn it because that's what passion does: it empowers developers to step outside their boundaries and to not be afraid what's ahead of them.”  And that’s just what Vella did. He had become frustrated with the poor communication between teammates in Vainglory, a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) developed by Super Evil MegaCorp for iOS and Android. Vella set out to find his own solution.  Within weeks, Vella built a Peer2Peer server stack and VoIP app named Tinker.  The gaming community immediately took notice, including the developers behind the game Vainglory.  He was invited to Super Evil MegaCorp and ended up selling Tinker to them.  Vella was offered a full time position, “but I declined so I could finish my education.  I think it’s critical to complete what you start, and my education is my priority.”  Instead, he became an independent contractor responsible for working on the E.V.I.L. engine which powers Vainglory.  As a result, Vella will do his fourth co-op with Super Evil MegaCorp the summer term 2016.

Vella is very thankful for the opportunity the School of Information Technology provided him in the co-op program.  “My favorite part about the experience has been working on projects that actually matter and have an important impact on people’s lives.  Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a delighted customer’s review in the AppStore and knowing that I was involved in making that positive experience happen.”  Gaining real life exposure, especially at such a young age, gives him a competitive edge when it comes to finding a full time job after graduation.  Vella credits his success in his co-ops to UC’s School of Information Technology where his coursework taught him the skills he would need to work and collaborate in the professional environment.  In a fast-paced field that drastically changes every few months, what is taught in his courses in terms of communication is key to keeping up with these changes.  By understanding how to explain technical limitations to the designers, he saved Intuit time and money.  Working in groups in the classroom exposed Vella to proper communication between peers, which he then carried into his professional life.

“What really matters is if you’re passionate about what you do.”  And Vella’s passion is leading him into a world of success.