Carole Richard, BCS 2006
I had no idea at all what I wanted to do when I was in high school. I liked math and problem solving so I followed in my dad's footsteps and took the UNB Computer Science program.
I liked the program but I couldn't quite see how it would lead to my dream job. I wasn't even sure what my dream job was, so I started exploring by taking electives from different faculties. I took psychology and loved learning about how people learn . Different styles and preferences. This led me to an honours degree in multimedia, where I could apply my computer science skills as well as psychology.
I am now exactly where I want to be. I specialize in developing user interfaces and web applications. My job is challenging, creative, and I get to work with the latest technologies. I could stay in this job forever!
It took me three years to get here, and I would never have found this job if I hadn't taken the Computer Science Co-op Program. My first two work terms were with the New Brunswick government, which helped me get into the federal government system. I worked for the Department of National Defence as a co-op student for four terms. The Department hired me when I graduated and, in November 2008, I moved into my current job.
If I have one word of advice for CS students, it's co-op. In the co-op program, you can gain up to 24 months of work experience (6 terms of 4 months). Those two years give you such an advantage over someone who finishes university with no work experience!
Co-op placements are great for making you realize what you like and don't like about a job. If I hadn't done co-op, I wouldn't have had a clue what types of jobs to apply for after my degree! After six terms, you get to know what you really want to do. And not only do employers get to know you, but YOU get to check them out too! You're in control. You can decide if the company you will be working for is what it is says it is.
You earn while you learn, that's a bonus. Your co-op salary can help pay for your tuition, in addition to providing experience that you'll be able to use in your career.
Through my co-op experience, I've made lots of friends - including my fiancé. The students I worked with during my co-op placements were also hired by the federal government so I already have a network of friends that I'll probably have for life.
My co-op work terms have taken me from New Brunswick to Ottawa; co-op students find placements and positions across the country. It's a great way to see the country and meet fellow Canadians.
I know most students want to graduate in four years and may be reluctant to go that extra year for the co-op program. Believe me, it's worth it!
Jean Sivret, BSSWE 2006
As a high school student, I enjoyed math, physics and most of the other sciences, and so I was encouraged to study an Engineering discipline. As someone who has always had an interest for computers and electronics, I was looking to pursue my studies in a field that would be directly involved with technology. Once I heard about the Software Engineering program, I knew that was the path I wanted to take.
During my degree, I joined the Co-op program which gave me the opportunity to get a work term with NB Power at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. Following my work term I was eventually offered a job at Point Lepreau where I worked as a software developer/project manager on software development projects for software destined to control and monitor the reactor, heat transport system, and other associated systems.
In 2009, I transferred within N.B. Power back to Fredericton, where I now work as a Telecommunication Engineer. I get to work with a team to develop, deploy, and maintain microwave radio networks around the province to provide, among other functions, power line protection as well as mobile radio coverage for the numerous dispatch units working on the power distribution system in New Brunswick.
If I can offer a piece of advice to any new students, that would be to first pick a field of study that lines up with your personal interest. Most jobs have, to a certain degree, an overlap between various fields of study and, because of this, the degree you pick will open up a number of doors for you in the future. From there, take full advantage of the great Co-op program available to you to go out, get experience and try to find the work environment that is best for you.
Aaron Small, BCS 2006
In high school, I was interested in computer science, but I went into a program at the University of Waterloo that didn't include programming and found I missed it.
I enjoyed the UNB Computer Science program and especially my co-op experience. I was able to do interesting work very quickly and was challenged to think. My first co-op work term involved 3D graphics, which is where I thought I wanted to be. But after working in software development with RIM Corp my last two work terms, I decided to stick with it. I love my work and I can see myself being here for a long time. It's exciting because even though BlackBerry is sold all over the world, most of the development is done here in Canada.
My job is to implement the lower levels of the video and music player and recorder used on BlackBerry devices (lower than the interface). So what I do on the recorder side is to implement functions that retrieve data from the camera and microphone, compress it into standard audio and video compression formats, and multiplex the data into a file or stream it over the network using standard (and some non-standard) formats so that a player (like a desktop computer, another BlackBerry, or another cell phone) can receive the file or stream, figure out which parts are audio, which parts are video, and how the timing works, and display it for a user.
I also implement the code that plays these files or streams back on the BlackBerry, as well as some of the protocol stack for playing videos received over a network using standard network protocols for streaming video.
A lot of the work focuses on optimization because on a BlackBerry, we are very limited in memory, processor speed and battery power. A lot of the work also focuses on identifying when there is specialized hardware on a device, whether we can make use of it to optimize something. Cell phone hardware has a lot more special-purpose hardware than a desktop computer and sometimes the hardware is useful for decoding or encoding video or audio, so in those cases, I write drivers for those pieces of hardware.
My advice to computer science students is to do the co-op program . you'll see the value of what you're learning right away. And when you're done, you'll have something you can show to people and say, I did that.
Ruairi Meagher, BCS 2005
I believe computer science was an excellent road to get to medicine. CS constantly stressed the importance of depth of knowledge versus breadth. Typical biology courses seem to be based around regurgitation, while CS required a basic understanding of key principles and the ability to critically appraise a problem in order to apply the principles (similar to medicine).
CS has given me a leg up; while many of my classmates have struggled with the application of knowledge, I only had to come to terms with the breadth, which wasn't tough.
CS also took me out of the "generic" applicant frame and gave me a different angle to take in interviews, as well as applications. This helped me stand out from the crowd, and there's a very BIG and capable crowd applying to medicine.
I took the CS Co-op Program and loved it! I highly recommend it. It helps with the financial burden of tuition and living expenses. Also, I learned as much on my co-op work terms as I did in class. Plus, it gave me a unique perspective on the public and private sectors, having worked in both. It allowed for further research opportunities (related to medicine, in my case) and gave me real-life work experience in different environments, which looks good on a medicine application.
Tifani Chowdhry, BCS 2003
When it was time for me to choose a degree to apply for, I applied to Computer Science because of all the opportunities it would afford me after graduation. I wasn't entirely certain about what I wanted to do but I knew no matter the company, technology would be central to their operations. My computer science degree taught me a lot about the technology industry and I felt prepared when it was time for me to enter the work force. I felt like I had received a well rounded education. Not only was I taking programming and math courses but I also branched out into multimedia and business classes as well. The flexibility of electives really allowed me to pursue other avenues of interest.
When I applied for my first job out of university, I felt as though just having a CS degree gave me a strong selling point on my resume. I had learned a lot of skills that would be useful in many types of positions in the technology field. One of those skills is the ability to manage problem sets. I had years of experience breaking down larger problems into smaller tasks.
My first job out of university was as a quality assurance tester for a software company. I have moved up within the company and am now a game development manager, overseeing the development life cycle of games! I know that the experiences I have had in my current position, along with my computer science degree, will allow me to continue to grow professionally.
Darcy Grant, BCS 1986
I was in another program my first year that was not challenging me and I didn't find very interesting. One class I took introduced me to Basic Programming. I found it was fun so I thought, why not try CS? So I did.
My CS degree opened doors and offered opportunities that I would never have considered nor thought interesting until I did them: I worked with the Canadian Air Force and Navy, worked on the challenges of the Year 2000 phenomenon, and worked with clients in a very broad range of industries, from banking, to pharmaceuticals, to government agencies.
I now work for Ambir, a small (40+) ICT company with offices in Halifax, Saint John and Fredericton. Since joining the company in March 2007, I have done work for the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, NB Power and currently the provincial Department of Health . 90 percent of the time wearing my PM hat.
Until I started working, I had little idea about the role that project manager plays in ICT work. Being a PM offers you the opportunity to see the big picture and have a lot of influence on the success of the project.