The Co-op Life

One of the main reasons I chose to come to UC was the co-op program. A year and a half’s worth of work experience when you graduate? Sounds like a good deal to me.

This past semester was my first co-op rotation, and I did it with the Business Intelligence team at The David J Joseph Company. The company is a child company of Nucor Steel, the largest steel producer in America. They have numerous plants all over the US, where they buy metal, recycle and sell it.

Group of people in yellow vests and hardhats at a recycling plant
A group of us newbies went to one of the recycling plants!

“How did you get the co-op?”
Like every other student, I was talking to as many companies as possible at the career fair, doing the thing I hate doing the most. Talking about myself.
There was a booth that was empty, and the sign was something about recycling, so I figured they weren’t hiring for my major (Computer Science), but I decided to talk to them. Turns out they were looking for an IT/CS student to fill their co-op position for next semester.
I had the necessary skill-set, and they offered me an interview on the spot.
One interview, a drug test, and a background check later, and I was offered the job!

“What did you do at your co-op?”
Like I mentioned, I worked for the Business Intelligence team in the IT department. In my first week, I had to learn how to use a new reporting tool called Power BI. I then had to test the tool to compare it to the tool they already used, and then give a team presentation with my recommendations for moving forward.
I presented weekly updates in team meetings. and worked on service tickets for our internal customers. I also made changes to SSRS and Excel reports when there were issues.
My last couple of weeks, I was making drafts and new reports using SQL and VB.NET.

“Do you just have to work all the time?”
Company culture differs from company to company, and DJJ had its fair share of social events. We had a birthday celebration every month, and I also got to take part in a Cornhole tournament. Of course, I lost, but that doesn’t matter. xD

“What was your daily schedule like?”
I woke up at around 6:30 am every morning, got ready, and took the bus at 7:30 to reach my office by 8. I worked until 4:30, with a 1-hour lunch break halfway. I took the bus back home and then I had a lot of time until 11pm to do whatever I wanted. Some days I’d cook lunch for the next day, go to the gym or do some painting.

“How do you feel about doing another co-op?”
Doing a co-op left me feeling confident about pursuing my major since it was now easier to visualize myself in a working environment, and I am now confident that I can succeed in my field.
I’m looking forward to my next rotation at DJJ because I will be experiencing another facet of the IT department this time – Application Development.

** Updated 5th Feb 2019 **

I am now officially done with my second co-op. Like I mentioned before, I worked under the Application Development Department of IT. I was frightened by the fact that I might not be able to keep up, but I was also excited to learn new things!

This time, I got to work on both front-end and back-end of in-house applications. This was not limited to new applications. I worked on enhancements of legacy apps, and contributed to newer ones. It was a whole mashup of different skills, and I picked up a lot of them – like working with API’s, databases, and more.

The company had now started utilizing the Agile methodology so my workflow was definitely different from the first time. Deadlines were stricter and accountability was top priority.

On my last day, I left feeling prepared to tackle any job I take in the future. Both my co-op rotations have also given me so much more confidence in what I want to pursue.

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