Taking on a Second Degree: [Part 3] My Second Work Term at IBM

Taking on a Second Degree: [Part 3] My Second Work Term at IBM

By: Patrick Underwood | Computing Science Co-op Student
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Patrick started his career as an elementary school teacher and now he is completing SFU’s Computing Science Second degree program.  Patrick shares his experience of transitioning from teacher to computing science, his first co-op at Malaspina, and here he shares his second co-op experience.

As soon as the next academic term began I started looking at co-op job postings for my next opportunity since there was no way I could handle two consecutive terms of schooling when the lure of working as a software developer was out there. I knew I wanted a different experience from Malaspina so that I might enjoy the entire gamut of the software development world, so I concentrated my search on larger companies. Four applications and one interview later I became IBM’s newest development co-op for their Vancouver software development lab. I whiled away the remaining weeks of study, eagerly awaiting the commencement of my life as an IBMer.

At IBM I was met with a very different experience that the one I had, had at Malaspina Labs. For starters there were a lot more people, paperwork and pop (alas no beer). I was uncertain if working as a part of a large corporation was for me. Where Malaspina was a group of engineers building a way to get to space, IBM was the International Space Station. Working as a part of a large team, not quite seeing the big picture, it took a while to adjust to the large company way of things. Slowly but surely though I found my place and found that it was indeed a good place... a very good place.

I discovered all of the opportunities and resources afforded me by being a part of a big company and took advantage where I could, absorbing as much knowledge and experience as I could and I hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of all the things I could learn and do. Then, four months into my IBM life I was given an amazing opportunity. I was tasked with taking an internal prototype software tool and turning into something official and presentable to IBMs customers. It's an honour to think something I developed would be used by major corporations around the globe! It's amazing to imagine that some system administrator somewhere in the world will use this tool and say “that was a pretty groovy experience”, and to know that it was me that helped give him that experience! I learned so much about the software development process from taking a simple idea and turning it into something marketable and saw a whole other side of the software development industry.

With the end of my co-op term fast approaching and my imminent return to classes I can’t wait to see where the opportunities and experiences afforded me by the co-op program will take me. I’m certain that upon graduation I will find myself ready and able to jump into my new career as a software developer! 

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Posted on June 27, 2014