Skip to main content
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering
SFU Co-op Student

empty
Team guardian flying a drone
Opening myself up to my colleagues and proactively building relationships made my Co-op both an enjoyable learning experience, and laid a strong foundation for professional growth with the company. 

Starting an engineering co-op at a large company is stressful in many ways; you don’t know anybody in the company, there’s a lot of activity going on that you don’t understand, and it is likely that your only contact is your direct manager. Having completed co-ops before, I know that towards the end of your co-op term you become much more acclimated and involved in the company’s activities – so when I started at Alpha Technologies Ltd. this fall, I took steps to accelerate this process.

During the first week, I signed up for the Alpha Running Group, sat in on a Toastmaster’s Club meeting, and attended a monthly “ALPHATalks” event (think TEDTalks!). By the end of the week, I was acquainted with 30+ co-workers from various departments within the company. Some of them were kind enough to offer a quick tour of their respective departments, which further helped me achieve one of my learning objectives – to understand the role and responsibility of every person in the company.

During one of my runs with the Alpha Running Group, I mentioned that I used to actively skydive and that I have over 500 jumps from aircraft. It wasn’t long until I was scheduled to share my story at the next ALPHATalks session.

After this talk, my network within the company expanded even further – people knew who I was and cared about what I was doing both in and out of the office. So, when the time came to fundraise for my Capstone project with Team Guardian, I had a broad professional network to reach out to.

My colleagues connected me to an educational fund related to my company. Upon hearing about our project, they generously contributed to our crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to this contribution, my Capstone team raised enough to fund the project and attend the Unmanned Systems Canada 2017 competition in Quebec. A fellow team member/colleague, Andrey Gromov, and I later presented our project to Alpha Technologies Ltd.

Concurrently, I transitioned from my co-op with the hardware team, to a part-time position on the software team – pivoting my career and pursuing new interests. Opening myself up to my colleagues and proactively building relationships made my Co-op both an enjoyable learning experience, and laid a strong foundation for professional growth with the company. 

Beyond the Blog

SFU Co-op Student
Connect with Vadim Tsarkov on LinkedIn.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term, Professional Development, Workplace Success, Workplace Transition, Communication

Co-op coordinator wth student during site visit
Make the Most of Your Co-op Site Visits

Your Co-op Coordinator, supervisor, and you in the same room -- time for a site visit! Co-op site visits are a time for reflection on your work term including what could be improved and what has been great so far.

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

A woman fast asleep
Sleeping for Success at Work!

The days of pulling all nighters and getting by on 2-3 hours sleep are over! Getting enough sleep is essential to ensure you can keep up with the demands of a fulltime work schedule and put forth your best performance.

You Might Like These... First Weeks on the Job

a group of people sitting around in a circle talking
Introductions, Rules and Learning Objectives

The following article is the first in a three-part series on how Co-op supervisors can make the most of a Co-op experience with their student. Part one focuses on introductions and expectations, and how to build your students learning objectives.

A young women with blonde hair and glasses smiling
Megan Holmes: Working in the Aerospace Sector as a MSE Co-op Student

This week’s SFU Surrey Co-op featured student is Megan Holmes, an MSE student who has been doing some excellent work at one of her dream companies, MDA, a Canadian aerospace company. One of the exciting projects she is working on is upgrading the Canadian CP-140 Aurora aircraft’s radar surveillance system. Read on to learn more about Megan’s experience!

A road sign that says Slow Down
4 Tips for Making the Most of a Slow Day at Work

Every job has its slow days every once in a while. Sometimes, all that free time can make you feel bored and unproductive. Ray shares 4 things he's done in the past during his Co-op work term to most of a slow day at work.