My one-year co-op term at the International Technology Office (ITO) provided a great opportunity for me to gain real-life experience in my computer science field. As a co-op web developer, I had the opportunity to work alongside experienced people and learn valuable skills that fostered my growth. In this blog post, I hope to provide the projects I completed, benefits, and challenges I had while working as a co-op web developer at the ITO.
The polder federated search app is specifically designed for the polar research community, with the aim of meeting the unique needs of polar researchers. The app indexes data from a variety of sources, including DATAONE, GEM (Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring), BAS (British Antarctic Survey), and others, to provide comprehensive and reliable search results. While working on the polder Federated Search app I made the following front-end and back-end changes:
– GitHub Actions
I have developed a GitHub action that automatically runs tests whenever a deployment is made to the Polder federated search. This is a great feature as it helps to prevent any deployment that would break the production environment, as the tests must pass before the deployment can proceed. I took pride in working on the Polder Federated Search application because implementing a GitHub action for running tests on deployment helped us catch and fix potential bugs or issues before they could negatively affect users. This improved the overall user experience and maintained a high level of quality for the application.
– KPI Polder dashboard
This dashboard displays key performance indicators (KPI’S) like unique users, bounce rate, sources of the users, distinct search terms etc. of the Polder federated search. The dashboard also provides insights into the user behavior of the Polder Federated Search. However, it is important to note that all information displayed on this dashboard is strictly private and can be accessed only by the International Technology Office (ITO). I was happy working on the KPI Polder Dashboard because it provided useful trends and patterns. Furthermore, the KPI Polder Dashboard is a great tool for making data-driven decisions and improving the performance of the ITO.
– Career exploration
When I started Working at the ITO, I had the opportunity to explore various career interests from working on front-end and back-end of the Polder federated search application, and content management of the WordPress website. I had to find what I was passionate about and what I enjoyed doing. Exploring web development via writing code and web development from WordPress plugin has made me to realize that I am passionate about building applications from scratch by writing code.
– Networking Opportunities
A significant benefit of being a co-op student is the opportunity to network with professionals from all backgrounds. As a co-op student I had the opportunity to attend various events, conferences and lunch and learns. These events provided a great opportunity to meet and discuss with other professionals and learn from their experiences. Networking is an indispensable opportunity in the tech industry, as it can lead to collaborations and job opportunities in the future.
– Building a portfolio
Having a portfolio of real-life projects that you have completed is vital in standing out from other candidates when applying for jobs. It is a good chance to flex your knowledge and skills to potential clients and employers. Working at the ITO provided an excellent opportunity to build my portfolio and it provided me something to showcase to potential employers.
– Reward for hard work
While working as a co-op web developer. Hard work is incredibly rewarding. It can lead to recognition from your team and supervisor and professional growth. Some of the rewards I got a pay rise and positive feedbacks from my team and supervisors in addition to all the skills I can add to my portfolio. It is important to remember to remain dedicated on the projects assigned to you.
– Landing Your dream job
One of the critical aspects of landing your dream job is having relevant experience. While working at the ITO, I developed essential skills and knowledge that were beneficial to me in landing an Internship at Amazon. Remember that co-ops are not just about getting academic credits; they also help in making you have a successful career
Being a co-op student has been an excellent opportunity to build a professional network for my career and gain real world experience. It also comes with some challenges. Here are some of the challenges I faced and what I did to overcome them.
– Imposter syndrome
When I started working at the International Technology Office (ITO), sometimes I wonder if I knew what was needed for the job and if I would be a good fit for the position. Imposter syndrome is very common to people just starting in their fields. What helped me was focusing on my strengths and accomplished tasks not my weakness and to remember that it is okay to make mistakes and that they are valuable in learning.
– Balancing learning and work
As a co-op student you would work on real life projects which might be time consuming. While completing these projects I was learning new technologies. I balanced these two aspects by prioritizing tasks for each day and week, asking for guidance from my supervisor whenever I was feeling overwhelmed, and I took breaks to help me recharge and stay motivated.
– Dealing with feedback
Lastly, dealing with positive and negative feedback can be a challenge especially if this is your first time working on a team. I received feedbacks from my team as I worked on my projects. These feedbacks can be difficult to hear and remember not to take the feedback personally. I took the feedback constructively by asking my supervisors for specific ways to improve.
How I kept myself motivated
– My supervisors were very supportive and encouraging whenever I hit each small milestone, which made me feel engaged and motivated.
– As a football fan, I found time during the weekend to watch my team and play football in the fields close to my apartment.
– I kept a task tracking list which gave me a sense of accomplishment whenever I finished a task.
In conclusion, working as a co-op student at the International Technology Office (ITO) has been fantastic. I have met Incredible people who are always happy to help me become a better person professionally and personally. It was a great way to network with professionals, develop firsthand experience, and build my portfolio. It was an excellent opportunity to learn and develop new skills. On the other hand, it may not always be rosy, always remember that it is okay to make mistakes. It is also important that you prioritize your tasks and set achievable goals for each week. Additionally, communicate with your supervisor about your workload and ask for help when needed. If you want to jumpstart your career, consider applying to be one of the co-op students.