Your background + major/minor
I’m a fourth year student in the Computer Science Honours (Co-op) program. My main interests are related to theoretical computer science, computer systems, and web development.
Many of the co-op employers have very interesting and fulfilling work available, which makes a co-op term a great way to learn a lot, while working on problems that are enjoyable for the student.
One of the major benefits to the co-op program is that employers often rehire students that have previously worked with the company on a co-op term. Having a job lined up for after graduation is an incredible thing for a student entering the workforce, especially when they know they really enjoyed the work they did there previously.
Has the co-op program been a good experience, are you glad you, did it?
The co-op program has been an amazing experience for me. It’s crazy to look back and see how much I have learned since entering the program just a year and a half ago.
I’ve had an opportunity to work at two awesome companies here in Winnipeg, where I was able to work on a wide variety of products and learn about different development strategies. This summer I’ll be going on my third co-op term at a company in New York City.
Each of my co-op terms have been major highlights in my degree so far, and I’m already eager to start at my next co-op placement this summer. The work has always been interesting for me, and the friends that I make during co- op terms have made the experiences even better.
What skills did you gain in the co-op program?
During my first work term, I remember spending the first few weeks learning everything I could about web development. It’s shocking how little applied knowledge you have when you start your first job after only covering concepts and theory in class. One of the major skills I learned during that term was figuring out how to apply theoretical concepts in practical and realistic ways.
Another skill that was heavily practiced during my terms was my ability to meet and work with other people, whether they work closely with me, or on another team. Almost all of the work we do in school is very independent, or between people who are all working on the same project. Discussing and communicating ideas with people in different roles or on different projects are extremely valuable things that I was able to practice.
Lastly, being able to write an effective résumé, write cover letters, and become comfortable with job interviews are skills that are very hard to obtain without going through a co-op program. I’ve applied and interviewed at 20+ different companies, and as a result, I’ve been able to have many successes and failures, and have been able to grow from those experiences.
Advice to students considering the co-op program?
I would highly recommend the co-op program to any student in the computer science program. My biggest piece of advice is to take whatever interest you have in computer science, and channel that into improving your abilities and learning new things.
Something that I didn’t realize was very important or useful prior to entering the program was passion projects. Taking any tool or technology that you’re interested in and making something out of it is a very rewarding experience, and it allows you to have some fun learning a new topic while also giving yourself something that many employers are looking for in a potential co-op student.
If a student wants to increase their odds of getting into the program, or being more attractive to employers, there are two things that in my experience have been most important. First, I would recommend studying hard to keep their grades up while developing a solid understanding on core computer science topics. Second, and equally as important, I would suggest trying out a personal side project in any area that interests them.