“Must have X years of work experience” – the dreaded words on almost every job application I came across. I chose to complete my undergraduate degree without joining the co-op program as I wanted to finish within the four years allotted for my student visa. However, I realized later on while applying for jobs that I was competing with people who already had work experience, which did not put me in a favourable position. The dilemma of trying to get work experience without being given a chance to work!
The importance though is to keep trying. Cliché as it sounds, it is the truth. There is only ever a 0% chance of getting a job, if you don't apply for it at all! So even if you think your qualifications or work experience aren't a match, apply anyway because what do you have to lose? You just never know where that first break will come from. As people always tell me, something will work out, eventually. I applied for the graduate co-op program after enrolling in PhD studies at SFU and in a short period of time, I got a co-op job offer at Wavefront, a non-profit company in downtown Vancouver. Wavefront is a leading Canadian centre for wireless commercialization and research. It accelerates the growth of wireless companies by connecting them with critical resources, networks, partners and opportunities. Wavefront accelerates speed-to-market and delivery of mobile applications by providing developers access to a national device rental library, technical programs and professional services for testing, deploying and monitoring mobile and web applications and services. The job description set for me involved writing automation scripts for testing mobile applications.
Now, my educational background is in Electrical Engineering, with the Biomedical option from UBC. Following this, I completed my Masters of Applied Sciences from SFU, which was in developing an electrochemical sensing technique for detecting bacterial growth. So, while I did do a lot of programming back in my undergraduate degree, it did not fit with my area of specialization in Biomedical Engineering. However, the important thing for me was to get work experience. Any job for that matter is a learning experience and should not be considered below you or a waste of time. While it is ideal to have something that suits one's interests and educational background, it is not necessary that one begins with that job. Work up to it while amassing the necessary skills, attitude and aptitude.
Eight months into my co-op, I have had the opportunity to work on big projects with well-known Canadian and US companies such as Bell TV and T-Mobile. It has taught me a lot and I have developed confidence in my work and abilities, which I find is the most valuable quality that can be taken away from any job. I have really been enjoying my work term and the great team I have been working with. What I like about my team is that it is small, close-knit and everyone works well together. My team members are helpful, jovial and appreciate one another. I'm very grateful that my work term has been extended upon the employer's special request and at the end of it all, as a bonus, I am also looking forward to having a number to put in front of my year(s) of work experience on my resume!
Beyond the Blog
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