My name is Dylan Hawkins. I’m a fourth-year computing science student at Simon Fraser University, and I am finishing up my fourth co-op term. I have had a unique experience in co-op, working for two vastly different software companies. In my first two terms, I worked for SAP, a company that specializes in “Business Intelligence”. SAP creates software that helps businesses manage and publish various aspects of their well-being, such as inventory, production costs, customer statistics, security, and many others. If it involves business health, their software probably covers it.
This is in stark contrast to my last two co-op terms where I’ve been working as a systems engineer at Electronic Arts, a giant in video game publishing and development founded in 1982. Both companies cater to widely differing audiences and because of that, they tend to attract people with very different talents, backgrounds and interests. During my time with both companies and throughout my co-op interviews, I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up on many skills that I believe every computing science (or possibly engineering) student could benefit from.
To be entirely honest, the current co-op workshops and seminars helped prepare me for co-op, but they were not faculty-specific and that left something to be desired. They definitely helped me improve my resume, my cover letters, my interview skills and my work attitude but none of them were aimed specifically at computing science jobs. This is completely understandable, given how many different faculties there are, but my hope is that this series can help bridge that gap by preparing future computing science students with a bit of extra information that will help them land their own co-op jobs and succeed once they’ve started working.
I’ll be talking about my experience with interviews, including techniques and preparation, working with co-workers in a software development environment, various software engineering techniques (which can also help in an interview setting), and finding a workplace that suits you. I’ve made a conscious effort to separate what I learned in the co-op workshops from what I’ve learned during my co-op terms so that most of this information will hopefully be new for someone who is just starting a co-op.