Parminder Benipal

Parminder was in ninth grade and living in India’s Punjab region when his parents bought him his first computer. Installed with Windows 95, it crashed the very same day, but nothing could dampen his enthusiasm for tinkering with technology.

“While I was studying in high school my interest in computers grew by the day and I started learning how to install Windows and assemble parts to run the computer,” he says. He knew that after high school, he wanted to continue studying computing science. With his parents’ blessing, he left India in 2010 and moved to Canada to take up SFU’s Software Systems program.

“Right away, I started learning new programming languages and implementing them in lab workshops,” he says. In CMPT275: Software Engineering I, Parminder developed an iPhone app for visually impaired people.

The application, called SpeakRead, improved the readability of small text for Internet browsing and reading books. It was this course, he says, that gave him the confidence and hands-on skills to start seeking his first co-op placement.

That summer, Parminder secured an eight-month co-op position as client support technician with the Genome Sciences Centre. This leading international centre for genomics and bioinformatics research hosts the latest equipment for DNA sequencing, operating on highly powerful computers and high-speed networks. As a client support technician, Parminder tracked and resolved issues related to software, hardware and network issues.    

After completing two successful work terms, Parminder returned to the classroom for a year before looking for another co-op placement, this time targeting multinational companies. He was preparing for an interview with Twitter when he received an offer from IBM, who he had recently interviewed with. He was hired for eight months as a software developer with their Global Business Services unit.

As part of the Panorama Sustainment team, he implemented software solutions to help improve the delivery of public health services to Canadians. Parminder’s technical and development background helped him understand and undertake projects. “I think having technical experience allows me to have the capacity to talk and work with clients, while my business skills help identify new opportunities in the industry,” he says.

Through co-op, Parminder has gained vast experience with different kinds of technologies and learned to maintain a healthy work-life balance. He is already receiving job offers from multinational companies. “I feel secure about my future and this is due to my co-op experience,” he says.

In Parminder’s words: “IBM is a good company to start one’s engineering career; it provides an opportunity to interact with and learn from the world’s best software engineering minds. I've learned to never stop learning.”