What was the interview process like?
I sent in my resume to Pat Hutsler, and then got a call a few days later from him asking to schedule an interview at Hunter. I came in at 8 filled out a few forms and took several aptitude tests. Afterwards I talked to 3 different engineers, all of which took the time to make a few jokes to make me more comfortable and the interview process less stressful. The Mechanical Engineer asked about my machine shop experience and the Electronics Engineers asked about my circuitry and coding experience. The whole process actually took about 4 hours, but everyone was so enjoyable that it did not feel long at all. Pat called the next day to offer me a position.
What did you do?
I spent a lot of time in the development and testing of one specific product. This was especially exciting because it's about to be released so there was a lot of attention from upper management and priority put into my work.
In the factory I spent time pin pointing issues with repeatability and reliability with stations that tested cameras as well as spending time testing new lenses that were being considered for production.
I learned VBA to develop a better data filing system that they wanted to keep track of all the cameras that come through the factory.
I also spent some time in the machine shop to make or alter parts for testing. With the time I spent there, I also got to learn how to weld which was a neat opportunity.
Would you do it again?
Without a doubt. I've learned so much on so many different topics, and the friendliness of the work environment is more than I could ask for. This is the kind of job that you go to bed excited for the next day and thinking about how to solve the problems in your software or how to best design your next quality test or a piece of equipment you are going to build in the machine shop.
What did you like?
I got to spend a lot of time working on one product from the beginning until it got released to testing sites just after my co-op period. Only one other engineer besides me knew the software and I got to go to the important demos for it for upper management in the company and customers who were looking at purchasing it. I appreciated being treated like the full time engineers in a lot of ways and not just like the intern in the corner.
What did you not like?
It would have been nice sometimes to have a few flex hours, but it was not a big problem because it was easy to take time off if I needed it. Also, the housing stipend was not adequate to cover housing expenses. These are not big issues though and would not stop me from doing it again without hesitation.
Did you learn anything?
I learned many lessons and skills from this co-op that I know will follow and help me for years to come. In a matter of a few months I learned how to operate and use much of the Hunter product line including aligners, lifts, and cameras. I got to learn new machine shop skills and techniques. I taught myself VBA which not only adds the knowledge of that programming language specifically but also boosted my confidence that I can handle future projects thrown my way even when they seem daunting at first. Also, I spent a lot of time talking to engineers about career advice that was extremely helpful.
Did the experience help you in your career?
I have not yet learned the skill of seeing the future from this job but from the deductive reasoning and educated guessing that I have in fact been taught, I do think that this experience will help me quite a bit in my future career. It definitely solidified that engineering is the right path for me. I'll let you know more as soon as I do.
Did it help you in any job interviews?
I know this co-op will help me in future interviews because it gave me a lot more confidence in my engineering work. I have a larger amount of real world experience to work with and a more focused direction for the career I want.
What was the dress code?
The dress code only outlined that men need to wear collared shirts, but did not say much about the women's dress code. Since I worked out in the garage where they don't wear ties all year, I wore business casual (a lot of dresses in the summer heat) when I did most of my work and then jeans and a Hunter t-shirt when I worked in the machine shop.
Was the work more individual or group work and how does it compare with what
you are doing today?
I was the only co-op for the Vision Group, so I did not have much work with other co-ops. However, it never seemed lonely because my desk was near the other co-ops and some of the projects I worked on, Andrew (my supervisor) and I did together.
What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to where you
St. Louis was a perfect place for me because even though I am from Texas, I already go to school here. I still lived with all my friends from school and did not have to miss out on much which was comforting consolation for not being on campus everyday with everyone. Also, not having so many responsibilities for school on the weekends I really got to explore the city and try a lot of the things St. Louis has to offer.
What were your living arrangements during co-op?
I lived next to Wash. U.'s campus (which is near Forrest Park). It was a simple commute - no more than 15-20 minute depending on traffic.
How was the supervision?
Fantastic. Andrew Nevin was my supervisor. He gave me a task and trusted me to get it done right without micromanagement. Andrew was always approachable and more than willing to answer any questions I had.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
Taking a co-op is something I decided to do to take a break from exams and push myself out of my comfort zone in a different way. Hunter is a great place to choose to co-op if you want to work on projects that are really going to be used in the company rather than busy work projects that were designed just to train you. The projects you work on will be implemented into the products that Hunter releases, and you will learn so much you can't find in a classroom.