We are putting out the call once again for interaction design students to add to our team. We are looking for 4 month internships — so if you're interested, stop reading right now, and email me!
If you're still reading this, I thought I would offer a few words of wisdom that I picked up during my co-op work terms. Co-op was a big part of my life for 5 years and I know that I would not be where I am today without the University of Waterloo co-op program.
There's always a bright side
I started my first work term in 2000, after my first year of engineering. Anybody remember the last stock market crash? Well, I was looking for my first job right at the start of it, and remember being very worried. I had a co-op adviser who tried to see the crash as a good thing — people are looking for resources, and want to do more with less — so why not hire a student? Not that students are cheap, but it's a good opportunity to do some research, try out new tools or processes and have a fresh perspective from a student. The opportunities were there (and still are) for those who look, and any market or economy always needs new talent.
Figure out what you don't want to do
Not every job is perfect. I learned just as much from the co-op jobs where the work wasn't what I wanted as well as the ones that were great. It's hard to believe, but in my first term I spent 4 months doing mainframe database programming! I learned that I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty in technical areas, but also that development wasn't for me, and that I need dynamic, team-based environments to be successful.
Hurdles are there for a reason
As a student, you don't always get your top pick the first time, second time or even the third time. As we all know, it is a combination of luck, and a bit of good ol' sweat. I always had my sights on the "ultimate" internship, which for me, was working at Microsoft. I applied to Microsoft every single chance I got (a total of 6 times!), and only made it on my 6th try. Every time I was rejected, I didn't give up on Microsoft, but told myself in 4 or 8 months, I'll be better, more experienced and will get a job next time. I know I ended up there at the right time for me, but wouldn't have made it if I had not worked at 5 other places before that. It's important to have your goals in mind, and remember that hurdles are there for a reason, including preparing you for what is to come.
At Habanero we are working to provide more opportunities for students in the form of co-op terms or internships. I believe it is the perfect complement to on-campus learning and really does open the doors to career possibilities if you're willing to put the time in. If anyone has anything else to add I would love to hear about it in the comments!