3A Bioinformatics, Co-op
Favourite Co-op Job:
Software development engineer intern, Amazon, Seattle
UWaterloo Hip Hop club executive, residence life don, orientation leader and group leader, Science Society (SciSoc) member, coordinator and participant for “5 Days for the Homeless”, and Math ambassador
Ameesha is a third year Bioinformatics co-op student at the University of Waterloo. Initially starting her university career in the Faculty of Science majoring in Biology, Ameesha has found a way to bridge her love of biology and computer science through the Bioinformatics program. Through co-op, Ameesha has had the opportunity to travel internationally while gaining work experience in the field that she loves.
The main reason I came to the University of Waterloo was co-op. My brother came to university here first, so I was able to witness first-hand the countless different ways that he benefited from co-op. I looked at a lot of different schools to compare co-op programs, but no school had as good of a network with employers as UWaterloo, nor the number of distinct co-op terms. Co-op is something that is really important to me so that’s ultimately why I chose the University of Waterloo.
Why did you pick your program? How did you know it was right for you?
Well, I initially started off in the Faculty of Science majoring in Biology. I took a Computer Science elective and discovered that I really enjoyed it! My first co-op job ended up being a computer science co-op and I absolutely loved it, so I made the switch to bioinformatics so that I could have the best of both worlds.
I honestly have no idea if this is the best program for me because there are so many things I haven’t tried yet. All I know is that, right now, I love what I do and that’s why I continue doing it.
What is your favourite thing about co-op?
I absolutely love to try different work environments and sort of experiment with different technologies and what I can do in this field, and co-op gives me that opportunity. I also love to travel, so I have travelled for most of my co-op jobs, and I plan to continue that with my remaining future co-ops! Getting paid is also a bonus, along with getting a good break from school every four months. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet people from around the world while on co-op, so that’s been amazing.
What is one thing you wish you knew before your first co-op?
Honestly, I felt pretty prepared for my first co-op; I can’t really think of something I’d wish I’d known to better prepare.
What I’ve told first and second years in the past though is to apply for interesting jobs, even if they’re under qualified for it. The worst thing that will happen is you don’t get an interview. If you do get an interview but not the job, you’ve just gained a huge learning experience for what kind of skills you need for these positions. And I’ve seen many people get co-op jobs they aren’t fully qualified for just because they expressed their interest in learning the skills they don’t currently have. Don’t underestimate why an employer chose you.
What is your plan for after university?
After graduation, I’m definitely going on vacation before I get to work. I think that a break after so much studying is important. I don’t have a specific plan for where I want to work, but there are tons of jobs in software right now, which is where I think I want to be.
What advice do you have for new co-op students?
Once you get a co-op job, maybe not right away but partway through the term, talk to your employer and find out why they hired you out of all of the possible candidates. You want to constantly develop your resume and interview skills, so find out what you need to improve upon and work towards making that better. Realize that although you are an employee, you are still a student, so ask questions! You’re still just learning and your employer knows that, so always ask if you’re unsure about something or even just want to know more. Also, get involved in your company and the city you’re placed in. You can network, have fun, and meet cool people. And whatever job you get, wherever you’re placed, you can have fun! Just be open minded towards every opportunity that comes your way.