As a medium-sized startup, Hockeystick uses AI to find funders and partners that match an organization's needs. They rely on Waterloo co-op students to help drive their business to new heights. “Students bring a fresh perspective, asking the questions that we might not think of working in the field every day,” says Elaine Coopersmith, Hockeystick’s vice president of product. “Their creativity is boundless; they challenge our thinking, which opens doors to new ways of doing things.”
Through the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP), Hockeystick hires co-op students for roles such as product management analyst, software engineer, quality assurance automation engineer and data analyst. SWPP funding was provided through the TECHNATION Career Ready Program, created to support the growth and development of talent in the tech sector, and helping students gain real-life work experiences and organizations to scale.
High expectations for tech talent
Receiving hundreds of co-op applications each work term, Hockeystick has high expectations of their students. “They are such smart people that already have work experience that adds to their career readiness,” Coopersmith said. “They are thinkers who are ready to take on anything you throw at them. They thrive on a flexible and dynamic environment which we appreciate.”
One such student is Computational Mathematics and Combinatorics and Optimization major Max Zhu, who joined remotely with Hockeystick last year as a software engineer. Zhu worked on front-end web development and created client widgets, among other tasks. “Hockeystick is doing a lot of great work. There’s always so much to do, so I really felt like I contributed,” he said.
Zhu was a natural fit with strong technical knowledge from his academic background as well as skills such as analytical and critical thinking, problem solving and logical reasoning. He completed any task thrown his way.
“I was surprised to learn how many common place tasks AI can be used for and how it solves problems more effectively than traditional methods,” Zhu said. “Math fits into AI because AI is built on statistics and requires a good understanding of statistical principles which math students possess.”
Math also fits into Hockeystick’s recruitment strategy through the competitive Double Degree programs. Waterloo students earn a Computer Science or Math degree through Waterloo and a Business degree through Wilfrid Laurier University. These students have the perfect combination of business acumen and technical expertise to drive growth.
A rewarding experience
For Hockeystick, working with co-op students is a rewarding experience as they help mentor the next generation of tech talent. “I’ve never had a disappointing experience with Waterloo co-op students,” says Coopersmith. “Within two days of onboarding they are actively contributing, building relationships and taking ownership of their work. It’s always rewarding to see the positive feedback at the end of their time with us.”
According to Coopersmith, co-op students drive her team to become even better people managers. “They challenge us as mentors and help us in developing ourselves as leaders. We obviously enjoy having students and the financial assistance from TECHNATION enables us to add more to the team each year,” she added.
The University of Waterloo offers the best and brightest in the future of tech talent. Learn more about hiring a math co-op student.
This news article was original published on TECHNATION (Career Ready Progam Success Story: Hockeystick).