Starting an engineering co-op at a large company is stressful in many ways; you don’t know anybody in the company, there’s a lot of activity going on that you don’t understand, and it is likely that your only contact is your direct manager. Having completed co-ops before, I know that towards the end of your co-op term you become much more acclimated and involved in the company’s activities – so when I started at Alpha Technologies Ltd. this fall, I took steps to accelerate this process.
During the first week, I signed up for the Alpha Running Group, sat in on a Toastmaster’s Club meeting, and attended a monthly “ALPHATalks” event (think TEDTalks!). By the end of the week, I was acquainted with 30+ co-workers from various departments within the company. Some of them were kind enough to offer a quick tour of their respective departments, which further helped me achieve one of my learning objectives – to understand the role and responsibility of every person in the company.
During one of my runs with the Alpha Running Group, I mentioned that I used to actively skydive and that I have over 500 jumps from aircraft. It wasn’t long until I was scheduled to share my story at the next ALPHATalks session.
After this talk, my network within the company expanded even further – people knew who I was and cared about what I was doing both in and out of the office. So, when the time came to fundraise for my Capstone project with Team Guardian, I had a broad professional network to reach out to.
My colleagues connected me to an educational fund related to my company. Upon hearing about our project, they generously contributed to our crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to this contribution, my Capstone team raised enough to fund the project and attend the Unmanned Systems Canada 2017 competition in Quebec. A fellow team member/colleague, Andrey Gromov, and I later presented our project to Alpha Technologies Ltd.
Concurrently, I transitioned from my co-op with the hardware team, to a part-time position on the software team – pivoting my career and pursuing new interests. Opening myself up to my colleagues and proactively building relationships made my Co-op both an enjoyable learning experience, and laid a strong foundation for professional growth with the company.