Finding a good co-op position can be a daunting experience for anyone, whether you’ve just finished first year and are looking for a summer job to explore what’s out there or if you’re a third year student looking for a 12 or 16 month experience to solidify your knowledge and skills in a particular field. To help you guys out, we decided to reach out to a few Mac Eng students that have had some amazing work experiences to share a bit about the recruitment process they went through, what they enjoyed about their coop and the valuable skills they’ve gained during their work terms, as well as some tips and advice for the readers! We hope you enjoy reading about the unique experiences each of these students have had and are able to gain some insight and inspiration on how and where to apply for your next coop!
Lianna Genovese- 4th Year Biomedical & Mechanical Engineering (iBioMed) Student
Research Assistant & Inventor at McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI)
Length of Co-Op Term: Summer Co-op (4 months)
How did you get the coop position?
I overheard my friend talking about a co-op position at MMRI. At the time, I had never heard of the company before so I began to research what they worked on. I learned that the MMRI solves industry problems using mechanical and manufacturing engineering solutions. As a iBioMed student having specialized in mechanical engineering, this instantly appealed to me as a great opportunity to learn hands-on skills in my field of study! I found the Project Manager’s contact information, Steve Remilli, and sent him an email expressing my interest in a summer co-op position. During my interview, Steve asked me to tell him one interesting thing about myself. I mentioned that my colleagues and I entered our first-year 1P10 school project, a painting assistive device, into the Innovative Design for Accessibility Student Competition (IDeA) where we placed 1st in Canada. When I showed him the video of my prototype, he instantly saw its potential and offered me a unique position. My day was split into two: during the mornings, I became part of a team tasked to measure the lifespan of dental implants using a machine that replicates chewing. In the afternoons, I applied my hands-on skills to transform my prototype into a finalized device.
What’s the best part about your job?
I was surrounded by an incredible team of graduate students, professional engineers, machinists and MMRI staff. My supervisor Steve had created a fun, supportive and hardworking environment. Everyone at the lab extended a helping hand and never hesitated to sit down together to collaborate, solve problems and invent new ideas! As well, I was ecstatic to instantly apply my hands-on mechanical engineering skills and iBioMed design knowledge towards my personal project!
How can students reach out to you?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would be more than happy to chat about my co-op experience!
What’s something you’ve achieved at your job that you’re most proud of?
I transformed my first year school project into a startup company called ImaginAble Solutions. By the second month of my co-op, I redesigned, manufactured and invented Guided Hands™, an assistive device designed to help people living with limited hand mobility to write, paint, draw and use a tablet or computer. I immediately began to make cold-calls and bussed across Hamilton to meet with medical professionals at local hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and nursing homes. I test-marketed Guided Hands™ with 92 patients and key opinion leaders and captured valuable feedback and advice for the next iteration.
The most inspiring moment during my co-op occurred during a patient interaction at McMaster Children’s hospital. I joined a 12- year-old girl and her family at their doctor’s appointment. The young girl had Dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that caused her fingers to curl inwards making it painful and difficult to hold and control writing utensils. I introduced Guided Hands™ to her and as soon as she began painting, the widest smile spread across her face. She turned to her mom and said, “Mom I want one!” and her mom turned to me and asked, “How much is it?”. At that point, the thought of selling the device had never even crossed my mind. However, with the passion and drive to help more children and adults like her, I created ImaginAble Solutions.
Today, I continue to grow my company and work alongside our industry partner MMRI, and Steve Remilli, ImaginAble Solutions’ manufacturing advisor to provide Guided Hands™ to those that imagine a life of independence and opportunity. My co-op experience at MMRI allowed me to truly transform my passion into a profession!
Please follow our journey and learn more at www.imaginablesolutions.ca!
What new skills were you able to add to your toolbox at the end of your co-op?
Throughout the duration of my co-op I had the opportunity to develop various technical and soft skills. I gained invaluable mechanical engineering hands-on skills as I completed daily tasks using machinery such as manual and CNC milling machines as well as 3D printers. In the fall, my experience using machinery proved to be advantageous during my mechanical engineering machine shop lab course. Furthermore, my colleagues and supervisors taught me important mechanical engineering concepts that were revisited in my coursework, thus enhancing my academic development. Moreover, during the development of Guided Hands™, I improved my teamwork, communication and entrepreneurial skills while interacting and working with patients and medical professionals.
Rumsha Ansari- 3rd Year Electrical Engineering Student
Systems Design Engineering Intern at Thales
Length of Co-Op Term: 12 months
How did you get the coop position?
I found the position on an employment website called Glassdoor. The hiring process consisted of two interviews:
A behavioural phone interview with HR
The second interview was technical and required me to elaborate more about my past experiences and projects with the hiring manager
What’s the best part about your job?
I think the best part is the workplace and friendly environment at Thales- everyone is willing to offer help and support. There’s also a large presence of interns from various teams.
How students can reach out to you:
You can find me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rumsha-ans/
What's a mistake that you've made at work and what did you do to fix it? What did you learn from this mistake and what advice would you give to students on embracing failures?
A mistake I’ve made at work is spending hours trying to figure out something that I’m confused about rather than asking a coworker. Oftentimes the question would just be a company specific process and the confusion would be resolved immediately after I asked someone. My advice would be to not be afraid to ask questions you have- they understand you’re a student and this experience is for you to learn and grow. If the coworker or superior is unable to answer your question, they’ll usually be able to introduce you to someone who can.
How did you make meaningful connections with your coworkers and superiors at your coop? Any tips on networking?
I was able to make meaningful connections with my coworkers by going on coffee breaks and having lunch with them to get to know each other outside of work. Moreover, we also made the effort to collaborate and support each other through projects. My tips on networking would be to have a positive attitude, be genuine and don’t be scared to approach and talk to your coworkers.
What are your main responsibilities as a Systems Design Engineering Intern? What skills have you found vital to your job?
As a Systems Design Engineering Intern, I work within the Products and Software teams. My main responsibilities consist of developing scripts to help automate functions, testing and debugging code. Some skills I found vital to my job were critical thinking and problem solving and some technical skills that I found vital were C, Java and Linux.
Written by Rija Asif