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RSA shares tips on working to your advantage with CEED

RSA, The Security Division of EMC has worked with CEED for the last five years on a variety of projects.  Their latest and current project has entailed developing a Blu-Ray Java Video on Demand Application. 

RSA.Jacob Evans (CEED student on left).2010 
 Jacob Evans (CEED student, above) with his company supervisor
 from RSA, Dr Jaimee Brown.

Final year Bachelor of IT (Queensland University of Technology) student Jacob Evans is into his fourth month working on the project and is thoroughly enjoying the creative and technical challenge it has presented.   He was initially surprised that the company expected his creative input from the start but now feels like part of the team in helping bring the project together.

His role has involved developing an encrypted video on demand application to run on Blu-Ray using the RSA BSAFE TLS-JME toolkit. 

Peter Robinson, RSA’s Engineering Manager and Jacob’s supervisor said that the energy which Jacob brought to the project was one of the reasons he enjoyed working with students. 

“As a technology focused company, we tend to be across new technology and ideas.  So it is not so much new ideas that students bring to the business, but a refreshing outlook,” said Peter. 

“I also think it is important to have a mixture of experience in the office as it creates a balanced workplace.  Senior staff are forced to re-think technologies in order to explain them to students and respond to questions posed by students.  The staff can benefit from observing the student’s approach to problem solving.  Students also learn how to interact with senior staff and in a way have a taste of workplace behaviours. It keeps the workplace evolving and supports staff morale.”

Peter said he thought CEED’s approach to industry-based training was a good fit for organisations like RSA too as RSA ran their operations by giving staff a high level of autonomy and this included students too.   Staff learning through mentoring was usual practice at RSA. 

Peter offered three key tips for companies looking to get the most out of working with CEED.

“Firstly identify the correct project.  It needs to be a self-contained one that students can work on autonomously with mentoring.  It also needs to be one that can fail.  By this I mean that the project should not be mission critical. However, the project must be one that the organisation is interested in. If it isn’t, staff will become disengaged with the project, and before you know it the project may go off on a tangent and not be retrievable in the timeframe.

“The project should also be reasonably sexy for the market too.  In order to attract the best students to apply for a project it needs to appear interesting from the project specs stage.  This could involve your marketing team’s input into how to present the project.

“Secondly, treat the interview process with the students almost as rigorously as any other interview process for staff.   We set a learning assignment for student candidates as we find this is an effective way to see their capabilities and earnestness for the job. 

“Thirdly, work consistently on making the project work.  At RSA this involves weekly meetings between the student, manager and senior staff to keep the project scope on track and also daily liaison with senior staff of the project.”

“If the building blocks are in place then we have found the experience has been beneficial for the company and hopefully for the student too.”

“RSA has employed some students who have worked with us on CEED projects.  From a company perspective there is no doubt that working with a CEED student can also be a ‘try before you buy’.”


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