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Patrick Du’s Experience as a Software Development Co-op at ApplyBoard

Each term ApplyBoard welcomes a new group of highly skilled students to our team for their Co-Op placements. These students have the opportunity to gain experience in a professional environment and make a difference as members of our team.

To help you learn more about the Co-Op experience for students at ApplyBoard, Patrick Du, a Kinesiology student at the University of Waterloo, shares his experience as a Software Development Co-Op.

Written by: Patrick Du

Thinking back to April and the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was no surprise that summer internships were being cancelled left and right. Unfortunately, I was no exception. On a Sunday afternoon, I received a disheartening call from my expected employer that my position was no longer available. 

Upon returning to my university job portal, I found a few positions that matched my interests. I reached out to my LinkedIn network to get feedback on what the Co-Op experience was like at ApplyBoard. Fortunately, a friend of mine had just completed her Co-Op at ApplyBoard and she was able to share her experience. After learning more about ApplyBoard’s mission, core values, and culture, I was excited—and submitted my application right away. After a smooth interview process, I heard that I had got the job and accepted right away! The next week, I began my Co-Op position as a Software Engineer.

Headshot of Patrick Du

Patrick Du, Software Development Co-Op

About Me

“How did you get into the tech industry?” is generally the first question colleagues ask when they find out my background. I am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, studying Kinesiology. Originally, I entered the field purely because of my keen interest in fitness and nutrition. Over the course of my first year, I recognized that what I truly enjoyed was being able to help people in whatever way that may be, which led me to a hobby in software development.

Attending the University of Waterloo, a university at the forefront of innovation, I am constantly involved in tech-related events. Being the curious individual I am, I took a stab at paving the intersection between health and fitness and technology. I have had the chance to develop these skills through internships in both Web and Software Development at a medical device startup. I really appreciated that ApplyBoard viewed these diverse experiences as a benefit when considering me as an applicant.

A Virtual Co-Op Experience

My daily routine as a Software Engineer Co-Op consists of a morning standup, development, code reviewing and testing, lunch, and touching base with other Developers. Finally, I conclude the day with a one-on-one with my mentor to recap what I’ve been up to.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with virtual onboarding, but it was clear that ApplyBoard had put a lot of thought and preparation into delivering a positive and concise experience. From meeting mentors and other Co-Op students through an ApplyCare fundraiser to learning about company products and setting up machines and dev environments, the entire process was engaging, interactive, and operated seamlessly. The announcement of our Series C funding round, officially making us a Unicorn company, concluded my surprisingly eventful first week at ApplyBoard.

As a Software Engineer, the general expectation in our role is to write, debug, maintain, and test software. If a product owner describes a new feature they would like to see? We build it. If a user reports a bug? We fix it. During my time at ApplyBoard, I have been able to learn so many new technical skills, work on many new projects, and participate in many new implementations, preparing me for future roles and my career ahead!

Growth and Relationships

The greatest takeaway from my virtual Co-Op experience was understanding the importance of fostering relationships with your colleagues. When your only interactions about code are via Zoom, it sometimes feels like you’re talking to Google. The in-person experience allows connections to be built naturally— coffee break small talk about last night’s basketball game can easily lead to new office buddies. To help ensure that this connection remained while remote, we met regularly through daily stand-up meetings, weekly check-ins with the whole team, and one-on-ones with my mentor. These connections allowed me to feel comfortable reaching out for help and helped me further develop my skills.

At ApplyBoard, I was a member of Team Lucene— one of the many functional pods that our Engineering Team consists of. My colleagues were very supportive of me during my time at ApplyBoard—and also became close buddies. Their roles ranged from Software Engineers and Product Owners to Project Managers, all working together towards the same goal. I was lucky enough to have a mentor, Hannan, assigned to me,  who checked in regularly and helped me develop my skills.

ApplyBoard staff in a virtual team meeting

Patrick Du, Hannan Zubair, Chris Hampel, Siddhant Koparde, and Mojtaba Ebadi, aka Team Lucene, on a morning standup.

Conclusion

I’ve had an absolute blast interning at ApplyBoard during my third Co-Op term. A huge shout-out to my team and other colleagues such as Paul Zhao and Mohammad Hamrah for leading me in the right direction and really stimulating my learning. 

As Emmy Tran, a recent Public Relations Specialist Co-Op wrote of ApplyBoard’s trust in their Co-Op students in her Life at ApplyBoard post:

“[It] perfectly reflects ApplyBoard’s values of collaboration, education, and empowerment. By believing in my abilities, they inspired me to perform my best and deliver the highest quality of work. Simultaneously, I was able to observe and learn from my team and develop new skills, which is the ultimate goal of Co-Op programs.”

Remote internships can feel isolating at times, but there are always supportive colleagues that will empower you to make the absolute most of your internship. Be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can. Most importantly, enjoy your internship—it’s a break from school! 

Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if you have any questions about my experience at ApplyBoard!

View and Apply to our Open Roles at applyboard.com/careers