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Brad Grafelman (January 2010 - May 2010)

Name: Brad Grafelman

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

Major: Computer Engineering & Computer Science

Co-op period: January 2010 – May 2010

Current school/company and what you do:
I am double majoring in Computer Engineering and Computer Science at MS&T. Depending upon how things go, I should have 2-3 semesters left until I graduate.

Current Location:
On Monday of the week after I leave Hunter Engineering, I’ll be starting a new job as a summer intern near Kansas City, KS.

What was the interview process like?

Pat Hutstler (recruiter) contacted me through MS&T’s electronic job system, MinerJobs, after reading my resume. He was my main point-of-contact throughout the entire interview process; we were in constant communication via phone and e-mail, we spoke at the Career Fair, he conducted my on-campus interview, etc.  I was also offered the chance to visit Hunter Engineering before finally accepting a co-op position. Even though it was my first “interview” experience, Pat was very easy to talk to and I felt that the whole process went smoothly.

What did you do?
I was able to work on several different projects - a few were major/long projects, but there were also some smaller/shorter projects that I used to “take a break” from ongoing tasks. I was fortunate to experience many different sides of Computer Engineering; I worked on designing/troubleshooting pieces of hardware as well as programming in various computer languages. Some projects required me to work with other co-ops or full-time employees, and others allowed me to work alone.

Would you do it again?
Definitely. As you can tell above, I was given a variety of challenges/tasks that a Computer Engineer might face. Being able to sample the type of work professionals in my field of study are faced with was very enlightening.

What did you like?
I liked the fact that I was given tasks that had real problems and needed real solutions. The job was far from busywork or doing menial tasks for other employees; as a co-op, I was able to work alongside other engineers to solve real problems in a very friendly atmosphere.

What did you not like?
I feel like a broken record mentioning the dress code, but there really aren’t many negatives/cons I can think of. The business/dress shirts, slacks, etc. definitely make the employees look sharp and professional, but I probably would have traded that image for some more comfortable/casual clothing during the summer.

Did you learn anything?
I learned that going to MS&T and not seeking at least one co-op is the worst plan you could ever have for your higher education. The type of knowledge/experience you gain from actually working at a company like Hunter Engineering can’t be taught by any professor or textbook. From practical approaches to solving real-world problems to being an employee in a company, there isn’t one aspect about my co-op that didn’t teach me something.

Did the experience help you in your career?
There is no doubt in my mind that this co-op has helped me in my career - and I haven’t even graduated yet! I’ve already tasted what it’s like to have a career as a Computer Engineer, and I feel a lot more confident about the direction I’m heading in.

Did it help you in any job interviews?
Yes! Rather than rely on generic interview tips/phrases/etc., I can actually talk to an interviewer/recruiter about actual experiences I’ve already had. I’ve worked in a company, I’ve been a member of a team, and I’ve been confronted by unexpected hurdles and found ways to overcome them. Although I’m not a recruiter, I can’t help but think that talking about my GPA or coursework isn’t nearly as exciting/interesting to listen to as what I’ve experienced here at Hunter.

What was the dress code?
As I mentioned above, the general dress code was a collared business/dress shirt, slacks/khakis, and dress shoes. Full-time employees are expected to wear a tie Monday-Thursday, though I was told that this isn’t enforced or expected for co-ops.

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

I had plenty of individual work, but some tasks required me to work with a Mechanical Engineering co-op or even some of the full-time engineers. All of the employees that I worked with were glad to help whenever I asked, and aside from the occasional “blame it on the co-op” joke, they were very easy to get along with.

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

I grew up 15-20 minutes away from the nearest “city” and the population of the town where I went to high school was about 1,100 or so. Since then, I’ve basically worked my way up to “city life,” first living in Rolla and now the St. Louis area. I’ve never really been opposed to moving, though, so it wasn’t really that much of a shock for me.

What were your living arrangements during co-op?
I lived about 12 minutes away in St. Charles. The price wasn’t too bad, and most weekends I either drove home (near Peoria, Illinois) or back down to Rolla to relax with fellow brothers of my fraternity.

How was the supervision?
Dave Voeller, my supervisor, was easy to talk to and get along with - qualities I hope to find in future supervisors. The shared task list in Outlook was a nice way to keep each other on the same page; he could easily see what I’ve done or am doing based on the last entry in the task list. If other employees asked him where a particular project was at, he could simply refer back to my entries in the task list.

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
If you’re looking for a fun co-op experience, I doubt you’ll regret choosing Hunter. Between the challenging work, helpful and friendly employees, and the wide variety of tasks/projects, you’ll definitely be proud to talk about your co-op to friends or future employers. If that’s not good enough, your car should be in perfect alignment when you leave!