Now that I have completed all of my co-op work terms, I figured it would make sense to do a little bit of reflection on the experience as a whole.
A lot of people have questioned me as to whether or not co-op was worth the extra expense. For myself, I can undeniably say that it was. Getting to work with a lot of really smart and motivated individuals on a variety of different projects is something that is pretty invaluable. There are people out there who are true hustlers who would certainly be able to make the same connections and talk their way into internship after internship during their summer semesters. I can confidently say that I am not one of those people. For me, the co-op program gave me the sort of boost that I needed to put together that resume and work on those personal projects.
With that being said, you may need to work a little harder to get the type of experiences that you are expecting out of co-op. My last two co-op placements were not found through the typical method that is recommended by the university. They came naturally from connections that were made at my previous placements.
I consider myself quite lucky that all of my co-op terms progressed as they did. Each one seemed to build on the last, which I guess does make sense given that I was gaining a lot of knowledge each time. One recommendation that I would give to people starting out in co-op would be to try to pick several very different companies. In a lot of respects I failed at this. All of the companies that I worked for were small to midsize, all centered on mobile technology and all of them had that young, startup feel. For me I think it came down to staying within a certain comfort zone and I think I could have gotten a lot out of adding some more variety.
With that being said, I was fortunate enough to receive the best possible outcome from the co-op experience: a job offer. Knowing that I have a job to go to once I graduate in the spring is fantastic and I am beyond thrilled to be joining Uken Games fulltime once I am all done with my final academic semester.
Overall, I really enjoyed my co-op experience and I would recommend it to any person who is trying to make the decision of whether or not to take the plunge. You will learn two things that you won’t get out of your typical degree program: Practical and specialized skills in technology and working with others in a team environment. As a computer science student with a thirst for knowledge, you really can’t ask for much more.