Building an IT career with Co-op

By Anasuya Kesavan, Marketing and Communications

Manupreet Kaur wanted real work experience. Despite having a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from India, she had never had an actual job.

“During my engineering degree, I took a few internships” she says. “But they were more like trainings. I wanted a job where I could work with professionals and practise my skills. Nothing beats the hands-on experience that you get by working on the field in a real work environment.”

Manupreet Kaur

When she came to Douglas and enrolled in the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Computer and Information Systems, she discovered the Co-op program, which enables students to apply for paid, full-time work terms related to their area of study.  Work terms are usually four or eight months and take place after a student has completed the second or third semester of their academic program.

With Co-op, Manupreet learned how to write a cover letter and resumé, look for job opportunities and practise interview skills. However, getting hired was not as easy.

“I applied for more than 20 jobs and got seven interview calls,” she says. “However, as a fresher with little experience, I got rejected by all. But my Co-op coaches continued to support me with additional preparation for interviews and encouraged me to keep on applying for more jobs.”

Manupreet found success by her eighth interview. She was hired as an Application and Infrastructure Student Analyst with the City of Edmonton.

“Although I was going to spend eight months in the Edmonton winter, I was on top of the world.”

At her workplace, Manupreet was one of two Co-op students providing support for a new software application to internal clients.

“When you are at school you get to do small projects,” she says. “Co-op gave me the opportunity to work on the POSSE Enterprise Platform, which is a big and complex system. While I was doing a lot of coding and making minor and big fixes in real time, I learned to deal with real, genuine problems that users face.”

“There was lots to learn, and that was challenging and exciting at the same time.”

She also got the opportunity to work on a mobile app with her fellow Co-op student, from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton.

Now, with real work experience under her belt, Manupreet is confident in finding work in the IT field after she graduates.

“I recommend Co-op to all students,” she says. “It’s the first step to start a career. I learned both technical and non-technical skills that will help me get more job opportunities within the IT sector.”

Students of 15 academic programs at Douglas College are eligible for Co-op. If you’re a student looking to gain skills and work experience, email the Career Centre at co-op@douglascollege.ca or call 604 527 5889.

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