As first semester comes to a close, you might be thinking about applying to co-op positions for next summer, or starting a year-long co-op. I asked my friend Sam Bovey a few questions to give us some insight into what it’s like being on co-op, and how he secured his position!
What program are you in? Where are you doing your co-op term?
I’m currently in my 4th year of Engineering Physics, doing an 8-month co-op placement at Mesomat Inc.
How did you find your co-op position? What advice do you have for students looking to secure co-op positions?
So I found my co-op position through word of mouth (and maybe a bit oscar plus but I refuse to give that platform more than 10% of the credit). The posting was available on the website and a friend then told me to apply, so I did. The rest of the interview process went pretty quickly from there. As for advice on finding a co-op, the biggest thing to do is just get as many applications out there as possible. Check oscarplus as well as non-McMaster sites for positions, and try to get your resume out there. A lot of engineering positions are filled with premade connections, but that’s not something that everyone has the luxury of. Networking events through your program are also a good way to get at least an interview at a company, so check those out as well. I’m sure there’s other stuff like resume building activities and tips for cover letters, but those are the big ones for me.
Are you working in-person or from home? Which do you prefer?
I’ve been able to work in person from the start of the position in September. I think everyone has their own preferences with at-home vs in person, but I much prefer coming in to work. It makes it way easier to engage with people and get hands-on experience, which is extra valuable to me because of online school.
What connections have you been able to make between your co-op and your degree?
There’s definitely a connection between my position and EngPhys. EngPhys is sort of a mix of a few different streams, and so it’s up to you to apply your background knowledge to whatever position you’re filling. Since Mesomat is a newer startup, I get the chance to try my hand in a few different areas, so it’s a good fit. We have courses on electronics design, which I’ve had to use for new PCB designs, and other courses have more emphasis on coding and computer interfacing with external circuits, which is also a big part of what I do here. I’ve definitely referenced old course notes since I’ve been here.
What has been the most interesting part of your co-op so far?
I’m not sure exactly what the most interesting part of my co-op would be. I’d say generally just the freedom I’ve had in my projects to learn about a variety of topics - like it’s not just coding or circuit design or CAD work, it’s practice in a bunch of new areas. If I had to pick something specific though, we produce our fibers in-house which is a pretty cool process to see, that would be my pick.