Landing in Toronto with three suitcases and an overwhelming sense of uncertainty in tow, Yuvraj Jain’s journey from a new international student to soon-to-be McMaster University Engineering grad has been transformative.
The driving factor behind the change? His time as a co-op student giving him the opportunity to channel his skill set in the professional world through work terms.
At 17 years old, Jain left his city in India to begin his journey to Canada. McMaster’s elite computer science program, flexible co-op and careers curriculum, diverse community and cozy campus made the decision to join the Fireball Family in Engineering a no brainer, Jain says.
“It’s scary to move to a new country at such a young age. You’re facing a new environment, new culture, a new level of independence that made me learn a lot of things about life,” Jain explains. “Starting my co-op experience after third year also really contributed to shaping who I am today.”
Support through ECCS
As he prepared to embark on his first co-op term during a global pandemic, Jain found a support system in his career advisor, Ellie Somogyvari, from the Engineering Co-op & Career Services (ECCS) team.
From teaching him to write a resumé and pointers on best places to look for jobs, to staging mock interviews, Jain says Somogyvari played a role in broadening his vision of finding his fit in the workplace. This led to him securing his first co-op job at Purolator, a position that helped spur his professional transformation.
“Ellie has pushed me in the best ways possible. She didn’t just give me technical advice, she told me about job life cycles, more ways to approach people and be professional,” says Jain.
[Ellie’s] guidance is a calming presence. The constant words of encouragement and approval is what got me through my toughest moments and strengthened my resilience. She made me feel empowered and confident in myself in a professional sense.
“Yuvi is someone who is naturally charismatic and focused, he has always had all the tools he’s needed to succeed,” says Somogyvari. “My job was to help him apply the skills and strengths he already possessed through the lens of building a career and working in a professional environment for the first time. Once we had our initial few meetings, he was off and achieving great things, creating his own path to success.”
Thanks to the flexibility of the co-op curriculum in McMaster Engineering, Jain’s original plan of action was to complete four, four-month co-op placements at various companies to maximize his exposure to different jobs industries.
“You can really chart your own career path through the co-op program at Mac Eng,” he says.
I wanted to experience a variety of opportunities to find the right fit for me so that when I graduate, I have hands-on experience and the confidence to know what career I want to pursue.
At his first co-op placement with Purolator as an application engineering intern, Jain quickly learned the value of being curious and asking questions. For four months, he worked under a manager who provided him with invaluable mentorship that supported his development and growth as an engineer and as a person.
Feeling more confident and experienced after his first placement, Jain joined the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as a software developer for his next co-op term. Interviewed and later managed by Mac Eng grad, Salah Sharieh, Computer Science ’12, Jain’s time at RBC not only provided him with new technical and social skills, but it also helped him recognize where he wanted to go in his career.
“What I learned at Purolator was completely different than what I learned at RBC. It was a completely different skill set I was being taught,” says Jain. “Purolator ignited my curiosity and led me down the path of asking more questions. With RBC, it was an opportunity to get more hands-on work experience and understand the operations and cross-functionality of large institutions.”
During his time at RBC, Jain came to understand the importance of coffee chats, formal ways of having informal conversations, building relationships and networking.
“I was always told it was important to talk to people, but I never understood the impact and value until I started networking with colleagues outside of my direct team at work” he says. “I was booking meetings with senior leadership across the organization. I would go into these meeting introducing myself, talking about my work, what I’m passionate about and what skills I can bring to the team.”
The dual impact of his networking and work performance paid off when, at the end of April, Jain was recruited by another team at RBC to remain within the organization for another work term. While his initial position was not up for a contract renewal, in a matter of weeks, his offer to remain at the company was a result of senior leadership across the board approving a petition from his team to keep him on, creating a role specifically for Jain as a full-stack developer.
“I immediately went to Ellie. I was so happy and proud of myself, and she was one of the first people I wanted to share it with,” Jain said.
Moving to the next chapter
With seven months until graduation, Jain reflects on his time at McMaster fondly. The culmination of his student and co-op experiences has left a lasting mark on his life.
Jain’s journey to unlocking his potential is rooted in the platform and resources McMaster offered. His personal and professional evolution is one he is proud of and will continue to build on in the next chapter of his life.
“I am incredibly grateful for the experiences McMaster has given me to let my best self shine, through co-op and being a member of such a special community,” Jain says. “Being a part of the Fireball Family is an experience I will never forget.”