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Software Engineering
Lancaster NY

Co-op > break (and school!)

Andrew Bona on Monday, 09 March 2009. Posted in Co-op, Vacation / Break

So last week, while everyone at RIT was on break, I was working. I started my co-op last Monday, my second block since beginning RIT. Some of my friends were making fun of me because I had to work while they got to do nothing, but I would rather work anytime… Last week, I made over 600 dollars from my co-op!

I am now working for Moog (a defense contractor near Buffalo, NY) as an IT co-op. It is absolutely AMAZING! As I said earlier, this is my second block. My first one was also at Moog. I enjoyed it so much, that when they extended an offer to come back, I jumped at it.

For those of you that are not sure what a “co-op” is, I can explain. It is basically a paid internship. I like to compare it to student teaching. They both give you on the job training, experience, and contacts within the industry. There are some MAJOR differences between co-op and student teaching though. First of all, student teaching is not a paid position. You are doing work, but not getting paid for it. Instead, you get a pass/fail grade from your school. For an RIT co-op, you are getting paid (which is really, REALLY, nice). Secondly, you are still paying tuition when you are student teaching. You are NOT paying RIT tuition when out on co-op. So to recap, you ARE getting PAID, and you are NOT paying tuition. Lastly, student teaching is typically around the area of your college. Co-op does not need to be! My brother came to RIT for Hotel and Resort Management… he ended up getting a co-op at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas! They hired him right out of college and he has been there for about 10 years!

I’ll start off by explaining my experience last summer. I had one project for the 3 months that I was there. It was a pretty big project, but still one project nonetheless. I was working with HTML, JavaScript, C++, C, and XML. Like I said, it took me a while to complete it. But that was my experience last year… here’s my experience so far this year…

Last week started off pretty crazy for me. I got in at 8am on Monday morning, and asked where I was supposed to report. My boss showed me to my desk and told me that he did not have too much for me. Well I think he lied… he gave me a small maintenance task for my project that I did last year (it’s really cool to hear that a lot of people use my program!). He then gave me another small task with a system that I wasn’t familiar with. So two small tasks, not that bad. He then gets an email and tells me that he has another big project for me. So right off the bat, I have 2 small tasks, and a fairly large project. Well he didn’t stop there… by the end of the day, I had 3 tasks and 2 projects! I could tell that I was going to be very busy during this block. But it still didn’t stop there!!! I come in on Wednesday and find another document on my desk, I read it, and it is another project! He also gave me another task that day to bring the total up to 4 tasks and 3 projects. Towards the end of the day today, I am handed another task…  This means that I have 4 tasks and 4 projects to do! I am going to be a very busy co-op!

There are some things that I can’t talk about, due to trade secret regulations… but I can talk about some of the technologies I am using. For this block, I am working with HTML, Javascript, CSS, C++, C, AJAX Web services, SQL, and even COBOL! For the record, I am not very good at SQL, and I have never worked with AJAX and COBOL before this block. That just goes to show you how much of a learning experience co-ops are. Even though I haven’t worked with a lot of things before, I am still confident that I can get the job done.

So here’s another nice thing about co-ops… NO HOMEWORK! Everyone is going back to school now, and they are going to have to start worrying about homework and exams and papers and all of the other not so fun stuff that is associated with school. NOT ME! I get to put in my 40 hours a week at work, get paid for it, and then I have the nights and weekends to myself! Laughing

Comments (3)

  • Mark McFee

    Mark McFee

    10 March 2009 at 12:31 |
    Andrew - good luck with all of those projects and tasks - it sounds like they have a lot of confidence and trust in you. That must be a great feeling!
  • Ben R.

    Ben R.

    12 April 2009 at 16:34 |
    That really sounds like a better deal than student teaching!
    When you say that you don't have experience with COBOL and AJAX, how do you cope (so to speak)? Are you expected to learn it on the fly or does Moog help you out with that?
    I'm currently an accepted student in the Software Engineering program at RIT, and I'm not really sure what having an SE job is like, especially since the technology continues to evolve daily.
    -Ben R.
  • Andrew Bona

    Andrew Bona

    17 April 2009 at 06:51 |
    Well, the one really nice thing about the SE program at RIT is that it realizes that technology is constantly changing. We have a course called "Personal SE". In that course, we learn different languages and technologies (C, C++, Ruby, and Ruby on Rails), but the point of the course is not to learn those languages, but HOW to learn those languages. There are different techniques that you can apply to learning a new programming language. I would have to say that that course has helped me tremendously.

    On the topic of Moog, they do help me out. But not all companies will do this. Some companies are looking for co-ops that know a technology really well, and will only hire you if you are familiar with that technology. There are other companies (like Moog) that look at the applicant, and try to measure them in other ways. No, I did not have the experience with the different languages and technolgies before Moog, but they determined that I would be able to pick them up quickly, and I have.

    So to answer your question, I am always asking people for advice here. If I encounter a problem with my code, I do some research online first, and if I cannot find the answer, I ask someone more experienced than me.

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