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Stephany Rich (January 2008 - July 2008)

Name: Stephany Rich

School: University of Missouri-Rolla (Missouri University of Science and Technology)

Major: Electrical Engineering

Co-op period: January 2008  - July 2008

Current school/company and what you do:
I am an Electrical Engineering student at MS&T, although I am currently working at Hunter Engineering Company as an EE Co-op.

Current Location:
I am currently residing in St. Charles, MO. I will be returning to Rolla in the fall for classes, and I plan to graduate in May 2010.

What was the interview process like?

Hunter actually contacted me for an interview after getting my resume off of the Career Opportunities Center (COC) web site. I visited Hunter’s booth at the career fair to ask questions and get to know a little bit about the company. I would also recommend checking out Hunter’s web site before going in for an interview. Hunter paid for me to drive up to their Bridgeton location for an interview. I first met with an HR representative, and I then interviewed with Dave Voeller, an Electrical Engineer at Hunter. The last part of the interview is taking an aptitude test, which tests your Math and English skills.

What did you do?
Throughout my time at Hunter, I worked on some small projects as well as a couple of big projects. I did a lot of C programming, and a little Visual Studio. This involved learning a lot more about programming than I already knew. I worked with some hardware the second half of my Co-op. This involved looking at detailed schematics, getting wires soldered, and using an oscilloscope to analyze signals. I helped out with a couple of demos for important members of the company. I also got to work closely with experienced engineers at Hunter.

Would you do it again?
Yes. Not only do you get a chance to save up some extra money for college, you learn so much that you would never learn in school. To me, that real world experience puts you one step ahead of everyone else in your field.

What did you like?
I liked being put on meaningful projects. The sense of accomplishment when you create a new feature or fix a bug is amazing. I liked the work out facilities a lot! There is a weight room, racquetball court, and a yoga room with a TV. I also liked the working environment. The people are friendly, and you get a chance to meet many engineers, as well as employees in different fields.

What did you not like?
I didn’t like how frustrating some of the work can be. It is difficult to come into an Engineering company, expecting to be pretty good at what you will be doing and not be successful the first few times you attempt a task. That is part of any job, though. You just have to keep trying new approaches and work hard until you have a breakthrough. I also didn’t like that there were no casual dress days. I would have liked to have worn jeans some instead of dressing up every day.

Did you learn anything?
I learned more here at Hunter than I could fit in an entire book. I didn’t know a whole lot about programming before my Co-op at Hunter. I didn’t even realize how big of a part programming plays in being an Electrical Engineer. I learned about C programming, Visual Studio, and LabView. I learned about serial and wireless communication. On top of that, I learned about working with other engineers in a real world environment.

Did the experience help you in your career?
Yes, the experience I gained at Hunter will help me in my career. I will have experience on a resume, as well as real world knowledge I would never have gained at school.

Did it help you in any job interviews?
I have not had any interviews since Hunter, but surely the job experience here will help me in future interviews.

What was the dress code?
The dress code is business casual. Employees are expected to wear dress pants and a collared shirt. As a female, I wore dress slacks or khakis with polo’s and nice shirts. You work in more of a garage setting, so I wouldn’t recommend wearing skirts. You can’t wear tennis shoes, they should be dress shoes. Some employees wear black tennis shoes with their black dress pants. I would have liked to have seen a casual Friday where we could wear jeans. I would have even given a dollar or so to charity each week to be able to do that. Maybe that will get started one day.

Was the work more individual or group work and how does it compare with what
you are doing today?

The work was mostly individual. I did have to ask for help several times. You can ask for help from fellow Co-ops or even engineers you are doing the current project for. The engineers are always willing to give as much help as they can. But for the most part, each project you are assigned is an individual project.

What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to where you
are now)

The pros of working in St. Louis include an amazing variety of places to eat, fun things to do close by, and being close to shopping malls. I am from a small town, and coming to St. Louis was scary for me. The traffic isn’t bad most of the time, but leaving on the weekends can be a pain. I would say the only bad aspects of living in St. Louis are sometimes encountering heavy traffic and dealing with some flooding.

What were your living arrangements during co-op?
I am staying with some people I met through some connections in St. Charles, MO. I am pretty lucky because I don’t pay rent. I do travel about 25 minutes to and from work. I did look for an apartment before this opportunity came up, which is somewhat difficult when finishing finals and trying to find time to get up to St. Louis to look at them. Hunter will help you find an apartment and get in contact with other Co-ops if you ask.

How was the supervision?
Dave checks in with you usually twice a day to see how you are doing on your project. He mostly wants to make sure you aren’t stuck and that you are making progress. Sometimes the visits are less often and sometimes they are more often. Other than that, you are pretty much on your own, but you are expected to make progress on your projects.

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
Hunter is a great place to do a Co-op. The environment is pretty laid back, you get to work on meaningful and important projects, and you gain valuable experience. There are highs and lows to the job, though. You may struggle with a project for awhile, but the satisfaction when you accomplish a goal is a great feeling. I loved the social aspects of Hunter. I played on the Hunter softball team over the summer, which was tons of fun and I got to meet different people throughout the company. I would recommend Hunter to anyone ready for the real world and looking for a learning experience.