Connor Larson, '20

Connor Larson sits in a hammock

Junior Connor Larson spent his summer participating as a software engineer in a co-op internship with Cerner, a Kansas City-based company that specializes in healthcare technologies. He had the opportunity to apply what he learned in the classroom to the real world. Read his Q&A below for more.

Q: Why did you choose your major?

A: I have always loved anything computer related and solving problems so this major just made sense. I prefer working with numbers and math so this works well for me. I hope to get a full-time programming job somewhere.

Q: What did the college search process look like for you?

A: I looked for a school with a computer science program and then for a school that had that and also had a good town to live in where I could also get a job when I graduate.

Q: Why did you end up choosing Rockhurst?

A: Kansas City was the main thing that sold it for me. I love the city.

Q: Were you looking at other schools besides UMKC and Rockhurst?

A: The other schools I looked at were all private Jesuit schools. I loved my time in high school at a Jesuit institution and decided I wanted to continue my education at a Jesuit institution. The top ones I looked at were St. Louis University, Loyola University Chicago and Regis University in Denver.

Q: You mentioned that you like Kansas City. What are some of the things that sold you on the city?

A: I like the feel that the city gives. It has a downtown which is busy and has lots of things to do. I like the idea of being able to walk everywhere I need to go and having these options was perfect. I didn’t want to go to a huge city like Chicago where it’s a pain to get anywhere and I also didn’t want to go to school in the middle of nowhere. I am already making plans to stay in KC permanently after graduation.

Q: How has Rockhurst helped you with finding job and internship opportunities?

A: The career services were great at helping me prepare my resume and then helping me with cover letters which was great. I went to the UMKC Engineering job fair which had a multitude of companies to meet with and Cerner happened to be there.

Q: What does Cerner do?

A: They provide IT support for healthcare. This can be anything from managing their electronic medical records to the many, many apps and services they build.

Q: Why did you want to work at this company?

A: This company is in the industry it’s in because healthcare is always going to be around but Cerner looks at it differently. They want to have the most amount of impact on the world and save lives.

Q: You mentioned that Cerner stands out among its competitors. How do you feel they do this best?

A: They are not a company who just cares about making money. They are truly concerned with giving the best product possible that will be most effective at saving lives. The care for both the people who use our services and even the care for the associates who work for Cerner is amazing. Even as just an intern I can see and experience the culture there that people matter.

Q: What was the application process like?

A: First I met with a recruiter at a job fair, then I actually applied online. From there they offered me an online interview which was technical based, making sure I was competent at coding. Next were the in-person interviews which consisted of two interviews, each an hour and a half long.

Q: What did a typical work day look like for you?

A: I get to the office in the morning and either start a new task or continue on the one I was working on the day before. I am treated like a normal developer there where we all have access to the job board and when we finish with one we grab another off of it. I have time for breaks pretty much whenever I need one and then I go back to my desk and keep on working.

Q: How do you think this position is helping prepare you for full-time work?

A: This can and is preparing me for a full-time work because the work I’m doing now is the same thing I would be doing if I was full time. I am on a four-person team and I am treated just like another member.

Q: What experiences did you gain while on the job?

A: There’s a lot of real-world experiences with coding that you never learn from the classroom and the big one is real-world applications. With working at Cerner, I am learning the workflow of a normal programmer and how to apply this knowledge I learned in class to my job. I had to learn two new programming languages that I had never seen before. Learning a new language is a pretty big task. Once you have done it before, learning a new one is much easier and I found that out when I started my job. It took me about a week but then I was able to work on the same projects as my team.

Q: Do you think being a Rockhurst student helped you stand out from other applicants?

A: Absolutely I do. Having a computer science degree from a college is easy but having that same degree from a private prestigious school like Rockhurst makes all the difference. The subject is not a hard one and I could have gone anywhere and learned the same thing. The difference is the way Rockhurst helps form their students’ character and work ethic. It might seem small but I think it really does matter.