Annelies Tjebbes

The Road to Success as a Co-op Student in a Medical Device Firm

Guest post, written by Annelies Tjebbes, Junior Biomedical Engineer at StarFish Medical

In the summer of 2012 I had the privilege of working as a co-op student with StarFish Medical.  As a UBC student in Electrical Engineering with a Biomedical option this was a fantastic opportunity to apply the skills I had been developing in technical and user-centered design.

This co-op placement was a great learning experience, and I significantly improved my technical as well as non-technical skills throughout the 4 month immersion in my field.  As a follow-up to my placement I developed a co-op report detailing my work as well as some advice to succeeding as a co-op student in this environment.

The following is my list of Top 10 keys to success (in no particular order):

  1. Be curious and eager to learn.  Get involved in projects of interest and meetings you feel you could learn from.
  2. Prepare for meetings so you feel confident going into them and can contribute in a meaningful way.
  3. Take initiative and take this placement into your own hands. Seize the opportunity!
  4. Put together daily TO DO lists and prioritize tasks.
  5. Keep a thorough record of your work to track progress and decisions made.
  6. Pay attention to detail.  Don’t undermine any decisions that need to be made or minor aspects of projects.
  7. Work on written and verbal communication in order to effectively communicate with a variety of stakeholders (co-workers, clients, users, etc.).
  8. Dedicate yourself to your work and seeing projects through from start to finish.
  9. Get involved in the work culture and connect with and learn from your colleagues.
  10. Reflect on each project by performing a post-project review and seeking out feedback.

Co-operative education provides students with an opportunity to apply their learning to real-world problems, and gain hands on experience.  StarFish Medical was a great company to do a co-op placement with because of their enthusiasm for learning and growth, their openness to junior involvement in projects, and the trusting collaboration between staff.  The confidence that was bestowed upon me while at StarFish enabled my success within the company and led to my decision to return as a full-time employee following my recent graduation.

Image: Annelies Tjebbes

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