My three co-op terms as a Tools Developer in the Language Services Team at SAP have helped me to become a better developer. Having experience working in an industry can’t be overemphasized. Companies are willing to hire a candidate who has prior experience and the co-op program at SFU has helped me build that experience, along with teaching various life skills necessary to be successful.
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs at SFU help students to become engaged in career planning through career building opportunities. MyExperience, an online portal for jobs, events and volunteer opportunities and the Co-op Coordinators and Advisors at SFU are the best resources that got me started in this wonderful experience. However, finding a co-op is not always easy. The secret to finding a job is to apply to as many jobs as one can that are of interest. While applying, I read through the job descriptions very carefully and tailored my resume and cover letter for each of them. I believe cover letters are very important for a co-op job application as any wrong impression or loosely stated descriptions might put one off the hiring grid. Apart from applying through MyExperience, I kept on looking for positions through employee referrals and companies’ career portals. LinkedIn is also a great resource to connect with employers looking to hire co-op students.
Before going into any job interview, I research the company in advance by visiting their website and talking to employees. I also prepare answers to basic interview questions related to my academic studies. As per my interview experiences for software developer positions, interviewers generally ask questions related to previous experience, in addition to a few academic and basic programming questions. I also take great care in preparing answers to usual questions like, “Tell me about yourself.” In addition to these things, I read an interview book called Cracking the Coding Interview as I believe it is one of the best books to prepare for coding interviews. After preparations, I went for a couple of interviews for software developer co-op positions. It took a couple of weeks before I received my first offer as a Tools Developer Intern in SAP’s Language Services team. I had heard from my friends that SAP focuses on innovation and solving challenges of the real world and has a great work environment. I was very excited to join them as my experiences and interests aligned with the role I was selected for.
During the first couple of weeks, I tried understanding my role, work, and expectations diligently and asked as many questions as I could. One important thing I learnt is to test my code before asking for a review. After writing a beautiful piece of code, you should always first check one of the base conditions. In my work term, I had the chance to learn many such things that I never previously gave thought to. Personally, my expertise was in back-end development and I never thought I would be learning front-end development. I learnt web development extensively and ended up developing a web application from end-to-end. I learnt several other technologies such as SAP HANA, Backbone.js, Morris.js, Node.js, Junit etc., which are useful in developing web applications. My interest in application development on cloud technology grew to such a point that I started contributing to an open source project during my spare time.
Throughout my co-op with SAP, I learnt skills needed to investigate how to do things in the best way, be it process automation, coding an application, or innovating and researching. Beyond my specific work, I made connections with the other co-op students and we played pool together every day. Life is not just about work, but also enjoying what you work on while you are working on it. I also got the opportunity to take part in different initiatives within the company such as a hackathon for charities, volunteering for social causes and peer-to-peer mentoring.
Working at SAP is all about building your skills in different areas. I got an opportunity to showcase my leadership skills at times by taking ownership of certain things within the team like organizing team and intern events. I found their Intern Mentorship Program very helpful and was paired with a senior SAP employee from the team of my choice. I had the opportunity to ask questions about the company, their interview process and the technologies they use. Team lunches and other events also helped me make great connections with all the team members and the work culture at SAP motivated me always to deliver my best. I had the opportunity to share various ideas with the team members and to implement them as people at SAP are always open to listening to ideas. I am very happy to have been able to pursue my co-op at SAP, as I believe it is one of the best places to work. Having worked for a year with such an exciting company, I am looking forward to returning to school for my final semester and enjoying the last days of my degree. After graduation, I plan to join a company that is involved in challenging real world problems.