Computing Science: Co-op Student Profile: Vanessa Wong

Computing Science: Co-op Student Profile: Vanessa Wong

By: coopcom
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Computing Science Co-op Student Profile: Vanessa Wong

Elsie Li | CS/SIAT Co-op Special Project Assistant

Name: Vanessa Wong

Employer:ArtStarts in Schools


Position Title: Web Programmer (1st work term)

New skills learned:

  • Web development skills: Developing the back end of ArtStarts’ online gallery
  • Database management skills: Creating applications and reports
  • Self-management skills: Self-learning, as no one else in the office has very much programming experience
  • Communications skills: Working at the front desk, I was responsible for performing general receptionist duties such as greeting visitors, answering phone calls, etc.

What I liked about the job:

What I enjoyed most about my job at ArtStarts was my involvement with the projects and activities. ArtStarts is a non-profit and relatively small organization. Before I was hired there was no other IT staff on hand, so I ended up with a lot more responsibility than I had initially expected; it was pretty overwhelming at first, but I managed. Apart from developing a website for the company, I was also responsible for creating applications that would increase the efficiency of the organization’s operations. I also liked that I was given a diverse array of tasks. Some days I would be managing the front desk, one day I found myself painting the walls of their public gallery and another day I was taking care of a food stand during the “Who Are We?” function that took place at Metrotown. There are a lot of exciting events going on with ArtStarts and not only was I able to gain experience within my field of study, I gained experience outside of it too.


Employer: IBM - Toronto Software Lab (2nd and 3rd Work Terms)

Position Title: Application Developer

New skills learned:


  • Technical skills: Programming in Java and JSP, and also new skills in database management. I mainly worked on the development of an internal application which is a test case execution, management and reporting system for IBM’s DB2 Quality Assurance team. This application is sent out to IBM-employed testers around the globe whose job is to look for translational errors in the DB2 software. By seeing the application being used by other employees, I now have a better sense of how applications should be created for its users.


  • Quality Assurance (QA): Having no QA experience prior to my work term at IBM, I learned how to run automated scripts to test the DB2 application and generate screen shots to be used in test cases. From this, I was able to develop my testing skills.


What I liked about the job:

My job at IBM has been rewarding in many different ways. Even if you are new to the company, you are still given important tasks to work on for your job. Since it is a large company, you are given all the resources necessary to perform well. One quality in particular that I liked about IBM is that they encourage their employees to further develop their existing skills and develop new skills. There is a library in the building and you also have access to online e-Books, which are available to all employees. There are also information sessions frequently being held focused on various IT-related subjects. Furthermore, you have the opportunity to take IBM certification exams for free, so I was able to take their DB2 Fundamentals Exam during my work term.

Employees here are very helpful to new co-op students as many are or were once students themselves working at IBM. There is also a good chance for students to be hired there after graduation.

For my third Co-op work term, I chose to work outside of the Greater Vancouver Area and had the opportunity to live in Toronto for four months. Toronto is a lively city with many different events going on, especially in the summer. There is a lot to see and do — the only downside is that four months is too short of a time to accomplish it all. This was the first time that I had to live on my own, away from home so it has definitely been a challenging, yet exciting experience.


My thoughts on doing Co-op:


Before joining Co-op, I did not have much relevant work experience. All I had with me was a rough resume and cover letter, and I had never been on a real job interview before. Through the Co-op program and the help of the advisers, I was eventually hired for a job relevant to what I am studying and one that I enjoy. Plus, it’s a nice not having to worry about exams for a semester (or two, or even more).

Posted on November 19, 2010