Fifth Work Term – Application Phase

At about this time every semester I’m applying for a co-op position, my life becomes something of a train-wreck. I turn into a worry wart, second-guess every line that goes on my resume, and question my own career and life goals. I lie in bed, tossing and turning, unable to keep the thoughts out of my head, which inevitably leads to some insomnia.

Part of the difficulty is in the fact that my interests are slightly too broad, and I am one of the few people in my computer engineering class that wants to (perhaps) pursue something along the lines of semiconductor research and development. I would consider myself a people-person. I enjoy interacting with people, working with them, and generally don’t like hardcore programming day in, day out. As a result, I’ve made certain that a big component of the jobs I’ve accepted has been business-oriented.

I took ECON 102 because the professor, Larry Smith, is considered one of the best. I completely understand why. While his classes are entertaining and he makes absorbing the information easy, at a superficial level, I also took with me some very important ideas and concepts outside of Macroeconomics. In the global economy and workplace, being technically proficient isn’t enough. Anyone with a computer and the internet can download a compiler and read programming tutorials. But learning interpersonal behaviors and creative and innovation skills aren’t things so easily distilled from internet articles.

And it seems to be working. This past semester at Sybase, I took on an extremely active role in the company, both within the boundaries of my described job responsibilities and outside of them as well. Participating in recruiting sessions, site event planning and similar things allowed me to develop relationships with a larger number of people than if I stuck to my defined role only. It also allowed me to develop leadership and creative skills, which will be useful, regardless of the line of work I end up pursuing.

On the other hand, the majority of co-op positions are development-oriented. I’ll be extremely candid here – if a company is looking for the absolute best programmer out there, well, I’m just not the person for the job. I am a very eager and quick-learning person, but I also understand the limits of my abilities. I believe that self-awareness allows me to excel in team-based work. I’ve realized that it’s time I stopped avoiding a big part of computing and dived right into the heart of development.

With all that in mind, I’m actively seeking development roles that will also allow me to spread my mind to other areas. I want to get in at the ground floor of new customer-centric developments and be an initiator of ideas. Wish me luck.

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