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Stephanie Phung

Student's testimonial

Computer Science Student

Company: Cognixion

Co-op Job Title: Software Developer


What motivated you to apply for Co-op?

I wanted to explore the different types of careers that I could choose from in this field of study, and see if it was the right fit for me.

Can you describe your position in a few sentences?

The company is a startup.  Most of the time I was either doing QA, or coding. There were a lot of weekly dev meetings since the headquarters is in a different country. The benefit of startups is that you need to be able to do many different jobs. We all worked as a team and played to our strengths. So, I ended up doing some IT work as well.

Did you receive training to perform your duties? Please Explain.

To an extent. I was given minimal instruction, and was expected to know what I was doing at all times. There was trust that I would ask for clarification or for help when needed. There was no handholding, and that provided many opportunities to grow.

What was your work atmosphere like? (flexibility, formality, team centric, supportive)

Very flexible work hours, informal in most situations, and incredibly supportive. Definitely team-focused as well. Going to work was fun and rewarding, everyone was very friendly and it was a positive environment.

What new skills were you able to learn/develop during your co-op placement?

Going in, my main skill set consisted of Java, OOP, Android Studio, and various technical skills such as troubleshooting and repairing hardware and software. During my placement, the concepts from my main skill set were incredibly useful, as well as my secondary skillset (listing relevant ones in no particular order: C++, Python, SQA, Clojure, Arduino, macOS, agile, git). In the end, I was able to greatly develop some of my secondary skills, as well as learn a few new ones: iOS development (Xcode, Cocoapods, App Store Dev), Swift, RxSwift, and AWS S3. What I find interesting is that I rarely used my main skill set directly, instead of building on the previous knowledge to pick up new skills extremely quickly. I would have to say that my experience gained in git and Swift are the most valuable to me.

How did your experience compare with your expectations?

My first co-op was at a newly created position, and since this second co-op position was a start-up I was expecting more or less of the same kind of environment, where things are not very well organized and we have to go with the flow. In a way I was right, it was a fast-paced environment, and some things were not very well organized, but I was very lucky to have an incredible boss who knew exactly what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses were which created an environment that was a perfect balance of structured freedom.

What was your proudest moment?

There were so many great moments that it’s hard to pinpoint a single one, but one of my favourites was when I was able to work together with a coworker extremely efficiently, and we did something together much quicker than we would have done otherwise. Real teamwork is incredibly difficult, and I’m an independent worker, so that was a good moment.

What advice would you offer to current students thinking about pursuing co-op?

Don’t be afraid to apply to jobs that you don’t think you have the qualifications for; refuse to lose by default! Don’t be scared to ask for help, try your best to remember things the very first time, and remember to have fun. Your work is going to be a big part of your life, and if it’s something that you’re passionate about, every day is going to be a good day. Good luck!