We started our placement at Connected at the beginning of January 2019. We noticed that as an undergraduate co-op student here, you’re treated the same way as a full-time employee. There is no designated “co-op” work – any work the co-ops do is just as likely to be given to another full-time employee. Many times, people at the office don’t even know that their co-worker is a co-op until they leave at the end of the semester.
Connected places a strong emphasis on connections (hence the name), whether that’s with clients, the tech community, or other Connectors. It can sometimes be intimidating to talk to full-timers as a co-op but Connected does their best to give us opportunities to bond with each other. Opportunities like being placed in a House where Connectors of all different job titles and departments are grouped together to participate in challenges against the other Houses, Weekly Socials to get to know people, and annual off-site Disconnects. As a co-op, all of these benefits and more have helped us fit in and find friends with so many of our co-workers.
Connected has a total of five values: Smart, Kind, Reliable, Teachers & Learners. As a co-op, these values taught us so much in four months through the daily work we do on our projects but also through activities outside of a project’s scope. One example that comes to mind are the web development learning sessions we had with Connected Software Engineer Anusan Sivakumaran. None of us were hired to do web dev, but we showed interest in the subject. All we had to do was ask and suddenly we found ourselves being taught a new skill.
The Co-Op Project was introduced as a way for co-ops to experience how to drive development on our own projects. We were provided company resources to help create anything we wanted. The first few meetings were spent on deciding what the project would be. Through various brainstorming meetings, we voted for an Android app that would provide feedback on a user’s interview and presentation skills. Afterwards, we assigned different roles to everyone on our project team to mimic how Connected sets up their project teams. We were able to explore roles that we were interested in yet unfamiliar with, without any outside stress of making mistakes, and overall it made a large impact on our smaller project.
Steven, an iOS developer, became our Project Manager; Kristen, a QA Engineer, was our Head of Design; and Branden, also a QA Engineer, was an Android Engineer. We based our dynamics heavily on what we had experienced personally at Connected or at other workplaces. We created a Trello board, had two weekly meetings, and gave ourselves deadlines to present the project to all staff during Weekly Demos.
One of our most memorable moments here was when Connected helped us organize our co-op outing. The rule was simple, choose any activity that facilitates team bonding that can be done either during lunch or after work. We opted for testing our skills in an escape room at Escape Manor called Death Row. Although it was hectic, using the one allowed hint to solve a riddle, we were able to escape with around 30 seconds left. After that, we went out for dinner & bubble tea and through these experiences, we became closer friends. Overall, Connected has not only provided us with a platform for growth and development but has actively facilitated it during our four months as co-ops. Through our experiences, we’ve learned a lot and met wonderful people who have helped us in so many ways, and for that, we are truly grateful.
We’d like to thank Software Engineer Anusan Sivakumaran for teaching us web development, Product Manager Mikkel Lunding who taught us what metrics to use when evaluating a presentation, Product Designer Hala Khoursheed who played a major part in cultivating our design, and Senior Design Researcher Hilary Hayes who helped us plan out the user experience of our app.