Skip to main content

Seraphina Augustus

SFU Co-op Student
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering

Seraphina standing and smiling in front of a Canadian Coast Guard vessel
I was able to test-drive my career and studies; apply skills learned in the classroom to the workplace; and develop and perfect my professional skills. I learned more than I ever expected.

Co-op has been one of the best decisions I made during my university career. It has allowed me to develop skills, explore career options and network with potential employers.

Trying to secure my first co-op was an extremely daunting task. I remember my first year in university when I heard of the mandatory MSE co-op terms and the range of opportunities that it brings I read a lot of success stories and was looking forward to my second year when I would start ‘seeking’ for a position. I was eager to apply what I had learnt to a professional work setting and develop my skill set.

In my second year, I submitted a few applications, however, I was unable to secure a co-op placement. I tried ‘seeking’ again in third year to no avail. At this point, I was quite worried and was seriously considering submitting an appeal to the MSE department to exempt me from the co-op program even though it is a degree requirement as I was also going through some personal issues that affected my student life. I felt the opposite of excited - finding a placement actually became more of a pain than I had anticipated. 

Nevertheless, I continued seeking for my first co-op, but this time, I also explored self-directed coop opportunities as advised by my co-op coordinator - and landed my first placement at FLIR Integrated Imaging Solutions!

I want to express my sincere gratitude to my co-op coordinator Stephanie DeRapp who supported me throughout the application process. I remember talking to her about some of the issues I was facing and how I wanted to graduate without engaging in any of the mandatory co-op terms; I still recall how we had an extensive conversation about how I was a resilient, strong woman in engineering and how she was positive that I would land a placement if I tried a little harder - these words kept resonating in my head and helped boost my confidence. I began to visualize myself as I wanted to be, and started to think positively about myself. 

The experience from my first co-op was quite remarkable considering that I had no previous industry experience but still got the opportunity to work with one of the world's largest commercial company specializing in the design and production of thermal imaging cameras, components and imaging sensors which enhance everyday life.

Prior to the end of my first co-op, I started seeking for my next placement and successfully secured  a manufacturing engineering specialist position at CWS Industries, a subsidiary of Paladin Attachments. This was huge for me because I was put in charge with minimal supervision to troubleshoot the manufacturing processes in two heavy attachment manufacturing zones. I worked on various projects ranging from creation of layout structures, time-motion study, Process analysis using TimerPro, Green road Implementation, PFMEA, lean manufacturing and continuous improvement implementation amongst others which increased my wealth of knowledge. 

For my fourth, and arguably most exciting work term, I decided to seek an extra co-op term placement but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had enrolled in part time classes just in case it didn’t work out. To my greatest surprise, I was able to secure a job at Seaspan ULC. This was a life-changing experience for me considering that I had applied to the same company back in 2017 and couldn’t even get a first interview. I have always been very enthusiastic about Seaspan’s products and services so this was an important development for me. This time I was interviewed for two different job openings and secured a position as liaison engineering Intern. I worked on three Canadian coast guard vessels between Victoria Shipyards and Vancouver Shipyards. This is one of the largest procurement projects since WWII, embarked on by the government of Canada through the National Ship Building Strategy (NSS). Seaspan has been chosen to build the state-of-art Non-Combat Vessels as part of this program. 

In the course of my job, I actively worked with Operations, Engineering and Maintenance teams to provide cost-effective solutions to design challenges. I worked on resolutions pertaining to the design of mechanical systems, including: sourcing and verification of mechanical components, ventilation systems,  and mechanical layout of components. I also maintained a broad general knowledge of mechanical, piping, instrumentation and electrical disciplines to be able to effectively perform tasks. I worked within navisworks, Ship Constructor, AutoCAD, and ARAS product life cycle management tool to accomplish tasks and ensure customer requirements are met. The amount of personal development, networks and connections made; and the opportunity to explore different career paths through this experience has been truly invaluable.

Each of these co-op placements had allowed me to develop unique skills: I was able to test-drive my career and studies; apply skills learned in the classroom to the workplace; and develop and perfect my professional skills. I learned more than I ever expected. The opportunities, experience and networking I now have are unbelievable for students. As I reflect back on all I have learned, I realize what an excellent experience it was. While I learnt a lot in the classroom, the hands-on approach has proven to be invaluable. I reflect on the amount of growth I’ve experienced; and my enhanced ability to confidently contribute to the workplace – and I could not have been more grateful for what co-op gave me.

It has served as a beneficial ending to my formal education. In my opinion, the best way to learn is by doing. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.

I consider Mechatronic Systems Engineering an ideal fit because it has allowed me to explore various engineering disciplines and their industry application. I recommend that future students think outside the box in terms of their first few co-op terms. I've learned that stretching a little outside of your comfort zone and taking a small leap of faith can broaden your horizons and provide a rewarding experience. The job search can be tough, but you have made the right decision entering the co-op program, and it will pay off in the long run if you stay motivated and focused.

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way” -Les Brown

About the Author

Seraphina Augustus

SFU Co-op Student
Applied Sciences › Mechatronic Systems Engineering
Result driven and detail-oriented Mechatronic Systems Engineer with over 16 months of engineering work experience within heavy equipment manufacturing and shipbuilding industries. Extensive knowledge of electromechanical systems, embedded systems, marine systems, control systems and ship construction processes. Expertise in systems design, process improvement, PI&D review, quality assurance, procurement, scheduling, review of concept & detail design of electrical and control systems. Extremely passionate about automotive, ship building, manufacturing, transportation, energy and semiconductor sectors.

Connect with Seraphina vis LinkedIn
Photo of the author giving a presentation
Creating Value: The Adventures of an IT Co-op Student

As someone who didn’t have a lot of direct experience in a technological setting, providing value to the organization had to come from something much bigger than my direct skill set.

A photo of the author
The 201st Application

It’s been two months and 20 days since my first day of my Co-op term at Westcoast Family Centres, but I still find myself waking up every other day in utter disbelief that things worked out!

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.


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.


You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

The right shoe storefront
My Life Among Birkenstocks

Walking into my first day of work for my co-op term at The Right Shoe, all I expected was just another retail job. But upon arriving at work, I quickly realized how much more informative and applicable to my degree the experience would be. What I thought would be just another retail experience turned out to be one of the most interesting, informative and relevant experiences of my life.

Students in the TaLK program
Student Life vs. Teaching Life: And Everything in Between

This is the story of how one Psychology and Criminology student went from being a diligent undergraduate at SFU to a fun-loving English teacher in South Korea. Read Queenie's story to learn more about how you can Teach and Learn in Korea, too!

Men jumping off a cliff
How I Left My Comfort Zone and Realized Self Growth

Being shy and not much of a risk-taker, I was shocked at having been asked to interview people. Read on to find out how my co-op with Beedie School of Business helped me step outside my comfort zone and gain a newfound confidence.