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Mike Fanger (May 2014 - January 2015)

Name: Mike Fanger

School: Missouri University of Science and Technology

Major: Computer Engineering

Co-op period: May 2014 - January 2015

Co-op Experience

What was the interview process like?

A HR representative at Hunter found my resume on my schools career services page and contacted me the day before our career fair. We discussed the position and scheduled an on campus interview. A couple weeks later I had a second interview at Hunter's St. Louis office with the engineering manager in charge of the position I was interviewing for. The whole process was straight forward and I never felt left in the dark at any time. Furthermore, Hunter was able to get back to me quickly with their decision since I had other pending job offers at the time.

Most students just want some experience but they don't exactly know what type of experience they want.  Please describe some of the work you did and what type of skills you needed.  It is important to note what you could apply from school and what you learned on the job.

I spent the majority of my co-op performing research and development for a proposed feature in Hunter's alignment software. Most of my work involved developing image processing and image capture applications using C++ and C#. I also got the opportunity to write some embedded C++ code for a microcontroller.

Although I often had to perform independent research in order to complete a task, my introductory computer science and computer engineering courses provided me with sufficient baseline knowledge so that I never felt overwhelmed. The ability to research unfamiliar topics is paramount to ones success as a co-op at Hunter.

What experience do you think will be the most useful for you in the future?

I am most interested in working in the software development field, so the programming experience I gained at Hunter will be invaluable when seeking full time employment after graduation.

How do you think the overall experience will help you in your career?

While at Hunter I was exposed to many aspects of the engineering and software development process. This exposure gave me a better idea of the type of engineering work I enjoy as well as the type of work I do not enjoy. This information will be useful when looking for future internships and full-time employment.

How do you think the overall experience will help you in your next job interview?

With all of the software development experience I have gained at Hunter I think it will be much easier to demonstrate to potential employers that I am a competent programmer. I now have many examples of different software development challenges I have faced and how they were overcome. Additionally it will be beneficial to able to tell potential employers that I have experience using Microsoft Visual Studio and version control software.

What aspect of the work did you enjoy the most?

I liked that the project I was working on was a priority to management and other engineers at the company. Towards the end of my co-op period the project was taken over by full time engineers and I was able to catch them up to speed and report the results of my research. I also enjoyed that I was given a lot of freedom when determining how to solve a problem. Help was always available if I needed it, but I never felt like I was being micromanaged.

What aspect of the work did you not enjoy?

Sometimes we had to do a lot of work in Microsoft Excel when we were compiling and analyzing test data. I am not familiar with writing Visual Basic code so I ended up doing a lot of tedious work manually.

Did you learn anything?

I learned a great deal about a wide variety of subjects including digital imaging, camera lenses, image processing, C++ and C# software development, and concurrent programming.

What was the dress code?

The dress code is fairly casual. I usually wore khaki pants and a short sleeve or long sleeve collared shirt.

Student often want to know if they will work alone or in a group.  Was the work you did more individual or group work and how does it compare with what you have done in school or at another job?

I was always working with another co-op on my project, but I believe this is entirely dependent upon the nature of the project. Despite working on the same project as another co-op, we would often be working on different aspects of the project. Nonetheless, it was nice to have someone to consult with about any problems I was having, because often times they had dealt with something similar.

What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to other places you have been)

I am from St. Louis, so I had the benefit of being familiar with the area and knowing a lot of people that live here. The city has a lot of history and it isn't hard to find interesting places to visit and explore on the weekends. Best of all, St. Louis is similar to most Midwestern cities in the fact that the cost of living is relatively low when compared to large coastal cities.

What were your living arrangements during co-op?  This question is especially important for those that are not from St. Louis.

Since I am from St. Louis I lived with my parents' throughout the duration of my co-op.

How was the supervision?

Dave is a great manager in that he gives you a lot of freedom with your projects. I never felt like I was being treated as if I did not know what I was doing.  Any new ideas I had were always heard out, and I typically was allowed to pursue them. If I got stuck on a problem Dave was always able to provide helpful advice or recommend someone I could talk to that could.