By: Sheila Dougherty

Co-operative education gives students an opportunity to test skills learned in the classroom, and to expand their knowledge through work related experience. Every co-op student has a differing experience and opinion on the program.  This was not only my first year as a co-op, but my first job as well. In the beginning, I had some anxiety and at times self-doubt. As my first semester of co-op at Lindon Engineering Services is ending, I have been reflecting on my experience. Confessions of an Engineer

Once I started, I was surprised how much responsibility I was given. I found myself applying principles learned in class and gaining real world knowledge. Although I had some basic understanding, I still needed guidance. My co-workers were friendly and willing to help, and they were incredibly patient with me while I was learning the job. The answers I received were fully explained with the how’s and why’s something needed to be done. Coming from a fast-paced school environment, the one-on-one interactions I had with co-workers and my supervisor was a breath of fresh air compared to the mentors in the past. Although my co-workers were supportive, there were several instances where I was required to apply critical thinking skills and problem solve on my own.

While working for forty hours a week, I am also taking an online course that I work on when I get home. Being a student while working is at times challenging. Juggling a full work schedule and class work has required me to improve my work ethic and my time management skills. I now say to myself: “You need to dedicate this specific time to work and study, then you can have the rest of the night to relax,”. Sounds easy, but from the perspective of a student who really likes naps, the resolve to dedicate specific times to work on and complete work is more beneficial towards my health as a student and to my grades.

To conclude, being a full-time working student is a milestone in my life. I am thankful for my coworker’s example of patience and guidance. Performing research for my job and school work has become easier because I now have the resolve to research topics thoroughly and use patience to complete projects and reports. My co-op experience has allowed me to see how school work relates to the real world, helped me develop better time management skills, and have more confidence in myself.

Confessions of an Engineer Co-Op