Sometimes just taking a step outside of your comfort zone and embracing the unfamiliar is all it takes to find a truly worthwhile and rewarding experience. For me, that was a step into my co-op.
I am nearing the end of my second term at LMI Technologies in the Hardware Engineering department. After completing four terms of co-op, I can wholeheartedly say co-op has been one of the most worthwhile and rewarding experiences of my degree. Stepping away from all your peers and professors and into the work field can seem quite intimidating but it is definitely an opportunity that is worth taking. Here are 3 reasons why co-op is worthwhile!
1. You Get to See the Path You Are Headed in After Graduation
Co-op allows you to gain experience in a variety of fields. Essentially you get a peek at what your future career will look like. You will learn what you excel in, what you can improve in and whether you are headed on the right career path.
I am studying Electronics Engineering and working at LMI has definitely helped to expand my background in Hardware and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA). I have had the opportunity to design a few printed circuit boards and cable drawings that have been produced and integrated into larger board designs. One of the most satisfying aspects about work is knowing that your assignments do have an impact on projects that other teams are working on. At school you receive a letter grade when you complete a project, but at work you actually get to see how your project contributes to creating a final product.
2. You Get to See the Practical Side of What You Learn in School
In Engineering Science, many of the Electronic courses I have taken are heavily theory based. Several times, I have wondered to myself "When will I ever use that theorem again?" or "What is so fundamental about this concept?"
When working at LMI, I realized that these theories and concepts are very useful and handy when troubleshooting printed circuit boards or when analyzing schematic designs. Co-op really allows you to see the conceptual side of your studies being put into practical use and applied to everyday work.
3. You Get to Network With People That Share Your Passion
Co-op allows you to meet and work with professionals in your field of studies. It may seem intimidating to start at a company and to not know a single person, but this helps to prepare you for your job after graduation.
After working at LMI for two terms, I have had the opportunity to work with and be mentored by many wonderful people who share the same interest and goals. I have gained more confidence and have a better insight on how to adapt well into a work environment. When doing a co-op that relates to your field of studies, you will naturally tend to meet others with similar interests, passion and drive.
This co-op has really given me a better vision on the career path I want to follow and the goals I want to achieve. Take the time to find out what you love to do and what is most suited for you. To be able to truly do what you love, you must know what you love, and you can only know what you love if you go out of your way and search for it.
Beyond the Blog
Learn more about the Engineering Co-op program.