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Harpreet Basraon

SFU Co-op Student
Applied Sciences › Engineering Science › Computer Engineering

Harpreet in front of IBM logo
In the beginning, I used to take every task at work as a school project and try to finish it by working on it even at night but then, my team lead explained to me that by overworking, I was not maintaining a work-life balance and told me to work only during my office hours.

Computer Engineering in itself is a totally different world, one without any borders where industrial co-op symbolizes its entrance door. If we look around: every device, every gadget and every application or let’s say, mostly anything (a coffee machine or an elevator) that is used in our daily lives is programmed in a certain way. Computer Engineering integrates the software with the hardware in the best possible way, making our lives better every day. I referred to it as the world without borders, because new programming languages and tools are used by different experts for developing new devices every day, thus, illustrating the growth of an endless binary world. 

When a new gadget comes into the market, everyone expects it to be something “really cool”, entirely different from its previous versions. Moreover, if the gadget is a success then the credit is mostly given to the programmers and the designers. However manufacturing a new product takes much more than just the programmers, the designers or even just a single team, it’s the joint effort of the whole organization which is working as a group with each individual contributing at a different step. Internships are an excellent way of experiencing this team spirit while working for such an organization.    

When looking for a co-op in spring 2012, I mostly applied to the ones outside of BC. One of the primary reasons behind this was the need to experience an independent exposure to the real world which was only possible by living at a new place and around new people. I am currently employed by IBM for a 16-month co-op term as a WebSphere Commerce Build Developer and Tester.

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation. IBM is one of the largest technology organizations in the world. It assists clients in running their businesses through the use of technology in a better and smarter way. I am employed at the Toronto software lab, which is IBM’s largest software lab in Canada. It hires more than 150 interns every year. This lab provides many opportunities for students to showcase their knowledge and expertise in programming languages. Furthermore, it also acts as a platform to learn new languages, which adds valuable experience to their engineering degree. In my opinion, IBM is a good company to start one’s engineering career; it provides an opportunity to interact with and learn from the world’s best software engineering minds.

Harpreet and coworkers at lunch

WebSphere Commerce is a leading IBM product that is utilized to do e-commerce. Nowadays, e-commerce is more than just buying and selling online; it’s about creating a more user-friendly and compelling shopping experience. My job as a builder can be briefly summarized as doing BVT which stands Build, Verification and Testing. Being in the release team, I am basically responsible for running the BVTs, however, I also get chances to work on various other side projects which can be related to either doing automation or developing new software tools. Moreover, I am not just restricted to the release team, as I get many opportunities to work with various other teams within my department. For example,  I was given a chance to work with the maintenance team, where I came across the various companies and brands that are IBM’s customers. I was also able to become familiar with the procedures that IBM follows to deal with the problems of its customers. This experience has made me understand that strong software industry is not just made by developing new products every day, but also by inventing new technological ways to maintain those products’ statuses.

While working for my team, I realized that a career in engineering would only prove to be beneficial to you, if you know how to maintain a work-life balance. My team has created a friendly atmosphere at work so that it’s easier for a new member to quickly adjust within it. In the beginning, I used to take every task at work as a school project and try to finish it by working on it even at night but then, my team lead explained to me that by overworking, I was not maintaining a work-life balance and told me to work only during my office hours.

My manager schedules team lunches regularly, which I think is an excellent way of getting to know your team. Moreover, we go to a different theme restaurant every time, which illustrates our diversity. I made new friends at IBM and was able to learn many different ways of learning.

As a computer engineer, I want to excel in the software and hardware world and I was able to experience them both at IBM. In my opinion, my current co-op term will prove to be useful in achieving my career goals as I successfully deal with new problems every day at WebSphere Commerce. Apart from the technical skills, I am also learning communication and team skills. In short, I am enjoying my time at IBM while it’s helping me to achieve my career goals.

About the Author


Harpreet Basraon

SFU Co-op Student
Applied Sciences › Engineering Science › Computer Engineering

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