Life as a Co-op Student at Sage

Life as a Co-op Student at Sage

By: Ligang Guo | Associate Software Engineer
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In this article, Software Systems student, Ligang shares about doing a co-op at Sage in an interview style post. 

Q: What program are you taking at SFU?

I am in the Software Systems program, which is a degree program of the School of Computing Science.  There is more focus on software development.

Q. Which year are you in now?

I am a second degree student. So I would say I am in the equivalent of the fourth year in general. In other words, I am very close to graduation.

Q. How many work terms have you taken?

This is my fourth work term and also should be the last one. This is the second term I have spent at Sage. I started my co-op at Sage in January 2015.

Q. Could you briefly talk about Sage, especially the Richmond branch you are working in?

Sage Group is actually a global corporation, which has branches in more than 20 major countries and headquarters in Newcastle, UK. Sage is mostly concentrating on ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software development. One of Sage’s more well known products in North America is “Sage 50 for small business”, which is a popular accounting software. I am actually working in the Richmond branch of Sage North American that is located beside Westminster Highway at No.6 road, i.e. in the beautiful Crestwood Corporate Center, next to many other big companies, such as MDA, Boeing, etc. The Richmond branch has about 300 employees. They mainly involve the two development teams, i.e. Sage 50 and Sage 300, and other supporting and marketing teams. Sage 50 is an accounting software for small business but Sage 300 is an ERP software for small and medium companies.  Also, the Richmond branch is the headquarters of Sage Canada.

Q: How do you describe your work environment?

The work place is spacious, light and neat. They have really flexible work hours, work-at-home policies and light working pressure. I actually quite like their work environment.

Q: What sociable activities have you attended during you co-op?

Since I have started working here, there have been a number of social events held such as bowling, a picnic, the Sage summit, etc. Some of the social events even covered the global branches or North American branches through an online conference system.

Q: What do you do in your daily work?

I work as a software developer at Sage 300. Sage 300 is the ERP software aimed at small and medium businesses. Specifically, my work is mostly involved with web development on full stack, e.g. from front-end to back-end, because I am working on the cloud-based version of Sage 300 ERP. I like web development very much and it is most likely what I would like to do after graduation. Therefore, I am really enjoying the work I am doing here. As a matter of fact, I am indeed getting more familiar with all aspects of web development, including source control during the past seven months. I believe the experience I have had here will be really valuable and helpful in the future.

Q: Is there anything else you think you acquired in the co-op that is worth to share with other students?

Firstly, I guess I have learned some lessons about how to work more efficiently, which I feel is definitely worth sharing. Generally speaking, in order to do efficient work, I’ve learned to focus directly on the relevant things in a project.  Although you might be interested in fixing other issues that come up that are related, it is best to ignore those issues and focus on the direct task at hand. Sometimes, even a workaround is a decent solution.

I learned this from my supervisor during my previous co-op. However, I didn’t really appreciate this idea at the time and regarded it as invaluable. I used to like to dive deeply into an issue and figure out its root cause. I felt that this was enjoyable and I learned more during this process. But in reality  most of the knowledge I gained during this process would disappear from my mind the next day.  Over time, I gradually realized that lingering over a job on issues that are irrelevant is always time-consuming and unproductive, and I would sometimes end up more confused. Consequently, I have changed my working style little by little during this co-op, and I am constantly working to avoid going far away from the issues unconsciously as much as possible. The effect is also straightforward. As a result, I indeed feel my work efficiency has improved remarkably.

Secondly, I would like to speak of the importance of the first impression. My supervisor gave me some suggestions, which include focusing on being detail-oriented in work. I would describe myself as a meticulous person, but I know that this impression came from the first project I worked on and a misunderstanding of expectations.

For my first project, I worked with a senior architect to make an internal tool. He was responsible for specifying requirements, and I did the actual coding work to implement the requirements. He would eventually review my code before submitting it. When he reviewed my work he found quite a few issues during the code review that I could have avoided.  The reason I made these simple mistakes was because I thought he would review my code and I thought I should not waste too much time to checking if he was going to review it.  But this was not the case, and in fact he expected more careful work. Therefore, I changed this mentality immediately and never got such comments again. However, this first impression has been remembered by my supervisor even though I have never made the same mistakes since then. Accordingly, we could see how important the first impression is. So try your best to make the first impression better.  

Q.  How did you feel about this co-op overall? Basically, I feel I have fulfilled my goals during this co-op in terms of both improving my technical and soft skills such as work efficiency, communication and coding skills. I will complete my program as soon as possible, and then look for a job in Vancouver, such as a web software engineer, etc. 

Beyond the Article:

  • Connect with Frank on LinkedIn.
  • Jason, a Mechatronic Engineering student shares how co-op helped him develop both personally and professionally in his co-op reflection.
Posted on August 30, 2015