Anjali Gupta (she/her), a third-year computer science student, describes her experiences working for a mobile development team for the first time and shares a few tips for gaining confidence at work.
"Currently, I’m working on a mobile application for messaging in long-term care facilities. We’re changing from version one to version two. Right now, in version two, we don’t have support for media messages like image attachments. A lot of customers are complaining that they’re not going to switch over if we don’t have that.”
“So, I’m currently investigating that and how it’s going to work with the new tech stack that we’re building. Honestly, at first, it was very intimidating because the code base is pretty big and learning all of that as a co-op student who’s never touched mobile development before is intimidating. But it was a lot of fun.”
“I’ve been doing a lot of research and seeing what our team can do. I found a library that works with flutter. I created a proof of concept and got that working on both iOS and Android platforms. I'm just trying to figure it out with the design teams because they also have a lot of restrictions like only wanting JPEG or PNG files, or no video files. So, there's just a lot going on right now.”
Q&A with Anjali
What has been the most challenging thing about co-op?
“Being placed in a team that was very different from my resume. My resume is mainly about web design and web development but I was placed on a mobile development team. Everything there was new to me, I haven’t touched the codebase they were using before.”
“So, trying to get on track there was really hard. Not only that, but it also causes a lot of imposter syndrome as well because you don’t think you’re good enough. In the beginning, any solution that I came up with I would be in my head and think it was probably wrong. That’s the worst mentality to have.”
"Getting that confidence and being okay with being wrong was the hardest part. You have to accept the fact that you’re a co-op student, you’re supposed to make mistakes and learn from them."
- ANJALI GUPTA (SHE/HER), THIRD-YEAR COMPUTER SCIENCE STUDENT
Advice for first-term co-op students
“Ask questions. I feel like everyone says that but it’s so important. When it actually came to me doing it, I couldn’t get myself to do it. So, being okay with making mistakes is the mentality you should be going into.”
“If you're in a co-op where you already know everything and you don't have to ask any questions, then you're probably in the wrong environment. You want to challenge yourself. So, if you need to ask questions that means you're in the right environment and you're growing!”
What has been the most rewarding part of your current work term?
“Seeing my code go to production. My previous co-op was a lot of R&D and making proof of concepts. But in this co-op, it’s a much bigger company. They have 10 teams working on one project. So, actually seeing your code go into production and having people using it is very rewarding.”
“Another thing was being able to explore all the different options I have in tech. When you get to a big company one of the advantages is being able to look at other teams, see what they're doing, and see how they network and work together.”
“That also gives you a lot of chances to talk to others in other teams. Even though I'm in mobile development, I can always talk to someone in the back end or talk to someone who's working on APIs. It's also very rewarding because it makes you feel like you're doing something right. You're not lost.”
Tips for students on networking
"The biggest tip is to remember that no one is going to reach out to you. It’s you, as the co-op, who’s going to have to reach out to others on your team.”
“One thing you can do is create coffee chats. If there’s somebody on the team that you want to learn from, just ask for a 15-minute coffee chat. Very likely, they’re going to say yes. So, through that, you can get a lot of networking experience.”
“Not to mention, if you say you’re interested in something, they’ll probably direct you to somebody who’s working on that. So, being the person who reaches out is what you want to do as a co-op.”
What is something you learned that you would take with you moving forward?
“The most important thing I’ll be taking back is confidence. Before coming into co-op, I wasn’t very confident in what I was doing. When I compared my first co-op to others, it was very different because they were working in companies where they have products released.”
“So, I never could connect with what they were doing and that brought my confidence down. But now, coming here and seeing it all play out, I've learned a lot about how team members work together.”
What’s next for you?
“I never thought I would get into mobile development. But, doing this co-op and seeing it play out, I'm actually considering it. I have catered my resume a lot to mobile development now and that’s something I’m looking forward to in my next co-op.”
“In terms of school, I definitely want to get more involved in the student community. That’s why I’m doing this blog as well. It’s the first step.”