CO-OP Feature: Ansh Kuckreja

Hey Fireball Family. Today’s topic focuses on a unique and interesting co-op experience from a fellow student in the faculty, Ansh Kuckreja, who is in his second year pursuing a degree in Electrical and Biomedical engineering in the iBioMed program. This summer, Ansh has been working for a real estate tech startup based in Toronto. He is currently working on a web application that is designed to illustrate relevant geospatial and real estate data with regards to land in a given city. This product is intended for urban planners, developers, and contractors to aid in their ability to design and develop the land.

For this startup, Ansh took on the role as a data pipeline developer; this position involves helping the technology team write out code that Ansh describes as, “retrieving, manipulating, and analyzing various geospatial data from across the web such that it can be implemented into the database for the user to access”. Ansh has worked with the development of code throughout his first year, however, he stated that this task is unlike any other he has completed in his degree. To complete and implement his code, Ansh relies heavily on programming languages Python and SQL, but the strong foundational team-working and problem-solving skills he developed in his first year have proved to be extremely useful in completing this task with his team.

Throughout this project, Ansh used some of his programming knowledge from first year and past experiences however, following his first day, he was expected to learn SQL of which he had no experience with prior to this position. As a result, he spent the following day learning this new language from an online course. When asked how his skills improved, Ansh stated, “My entire approach to problem-solving and programming has changed. I’ve really learned not to be intimidated by the work that my superiors are doing and instead comfortably asking questions, and admitting when I don’t know something”.

During the winter term, Ansh had applied for nearly 50 positions through OscarPlus however, due to COVID-19, he wasn’t able to secure any of them. In the first week of May, Ansh had set up a call with the CEO of the small startup whom he met through an acquaintance. Due to the size of the company, he knew that the work completed by each individual was significant to the success of the company and its product. Ansh claimed that he was unconfident with the skills he possessed coming out of first-year engineering however, the portrayal of his programming and collaborative experience from past years convinced his employer that he was the right fit to begin helping with data-analytics.

Although co-op may seem daunting at times, it is an exceptional way to learn and gain experience in the workforce while also getting paid for your efforts. When asked about his thoughts on co-op, Ansh compared the opportunity to a “two-way street” because “your employers are benefiting from the work you’re putting in, but you’re also getting to learn the ropes of an industry, see how a successful company operates, and get to gain a massive skillset”. To add, he mentioned, “In a way, you’re getting paid to learn, and I think that’s the way everyone should view a co-op position. There’s a reason your employer hired you but there is also a reason you chose that specific employer, take advantage of it”.

To conclude, Ansh sends this message off to the readers, “For those reading, while skills and applications are very important, having a network built upon preconstructed relationships is unequivocal in securing a position because the people hiring you already know something about you, or about someone that trusts you. Another thing about a network is that its size increases rapidly. Simply knowing just one more person can lead to ten new connections and it keeps growing”.

Written by Taylor Dalkan