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Punchin’ in, Punchin’ out: 4 co-op students share their best experiences on the job September 14, 2018

On September 11, Engineering Co-op & Career Services hosted their first ever, Co-Op Return to Campus event.

Over 300 students had the opportunity to network and learn from experienced co-op students at the event. Here are four co-op students who shared what they learned, the skills they gained and what's next for them:

Francesca Altobelli


Program: Electrical Engineering & Society
Co-Op Placement: Syncrude Canada Ltd. in Fort McMurray, Alberta 
Role: On the controls team, Altobelli worked with hardware, software and communications systems to control the machines in all of the oil refinery plants.
The perks of a large company: “There are 11,000 people working for Syncrude. I got to branch into a lot of the other fields while I was there because there were so many different projects going on.”
Finding sustainable solutions: “At first I was hesitant about this co-op because I minor in Sustainability. Sustainability and oil sands doesn’t really match up but that’s one of the reasons why I did it. If I want to use my degree to make things more sustainable then I need to learn about the problem areas.”

Matt Ferguson

Program: Chemical Engineering and Society
Co-Op Placement: Lakeside Process Controls
Role: As an Application Engineering Intern, Ferguson worked with the company’s two major customers, Enbridge Gas Distribution and Union Gas, to help organize and schedule the construction and installation of natural gas stations throughout the GTA, Ontario and Quebec.
The perks of a medium-sized company:“Everyone is tight knit and close. I felt like I was actually important. I was doing pivotal stuff for our team that I couldn’t imagine an intern doing. I was one of the first ones on that team so that was very interesting. Feeling that I had a proper role and that my role was important felt really good.”
What the future holds: “Working full-time for Lakeside is definitely an option. My manager and I have had a one on one about the future and he believes, and a lot of people at Lakeside believe, that there are a lot of opportunities out there and a lot of areas I should explore before putting my eggs in one basket. But working at Lakeside is definitely a solid option.”

Alyssa Haas

Program: Materials Engineering & Society
Co-Op Placement: UTC Aerospace Systems
Role: The main project Haas worked on was wear testing of different materials used for landing gear components.
The fruits of her labour: “Being able to walk around through the shop floor to see where all the parts are manufactured is great. If you’re just working in a lab, you oftentimes don’t really see how everything is applied. But my boss was really good about encouraging me to see the final product.”
Vital skills: “I learned how to communicate with professionals who have been doing a certain job for a really long time. I also learned professional writing, organization and taking initiative. My colleagues encouraged me to be more independent in the work that I did.”
What’s next:“I’ve been thinking about doing a full internship. I may try a different sector of Materials Engineering since it’s such a broad area to go into.”

Nicole Vicentic

Program: Biotechnology, Bachelor of Technology
Co-Op Placement: Royal Bank of Canada
Role: As a client advisor for an RBC branch in Hamilton, Vincentik had face-to-face interactions with clients and helped to fulfil their financial needs.
A supportive environment: “They are a very supportive company, especially in welcoming students. They want students to prosper and grow and personally develop. They told me to never feel uncomfortable asking questions because I was there to grow and learn and that’s what I’ve been doing all 12 months. It was really nice to hear that.”
A growth experience: “It changes you. I have definitely grown as a student and as a potential employee for future companies. I learned a lot about myself and improved on many skills. I tell my friends to take an opportunity like this all the time.”

Learn more about our co-op program.