What was the interview process like?
I was contacted by Megan Pieper through email after she saw my resume on MinerJobs. I called her back and told her I would be interested in working for Hunter. I wasn't able to meet for an on-campus interview due to prior obligations, but I came back one weekend for an on-site interview. It was surprisingly short. Dave Voeller, my future boss, asked me one or two questions about my resume and told me what projects were being done at Hunter. I was particularly interested in the new technology he said I could be working with (Windows 10). I also took an online aptitude test which I'm still not sure how well I did on. It was very strange.
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 was coming into Hunter with only 1 year of college under my belt. I had quite a bit of programming experience from hackathons and high school courses, but overall my engineering experience was low. The great thing about Hunter's co-op program is I worked on a team with several other co-ops that could bring me up to speed on things I was not sure about. I worked on bringing Hunter's newest technology, License Plate Recognition, from an idea to a mostly-functional product. Most of my work was programming in C#. It will help if co-ops coming in have a garbage-collecting/managed-code language under their belt (Java, Go, C#). I built an FTP server, a debugger, and a triggering mechanism for the new product with help from Hunter's software engineers. I also had the chance to work with Microsoft's newest applications, Universal Windows Platform. It allowed me to implement OCR, Face Detection, Drivers, and more on phones, tablets, and desktops.
What experience do you think will be the most useful for you in the future?
All of the programming I've done at Hunter will be most useful in my future. I have already started publishing apps to the Windows and Android store with my newfound knowledge of GUIs and APIs. The types of programs I was making at school were all console-based and were not especially applicable to real-world programs. Hunter opened my eyes to ease of use and neatness in code. I feel that bringing a product full-circle is very important as well. I am now super eager to make my own products and bring them full-circle.
How do you think the overall experience will help you in your career?
I think being a co-op at a well-known engineering company is a great addition to a resume. I think it will be easier to find an internship next summer and/or a long-term job after I graduate. I have more confidence in my engineering capabilities and I am now sure I picked the correct major(s).
How do you think the overall experience will help you in your next job interview?
I now have hundreds of things I can talk about in interviews. Every day at Hunter provided new, interesting, and challenging tasks. Many times interviewers would talk about what teams I had been a crucial part of. There were not many work-related teams I could talk about because although I was on design teams, I did not play super significant parts. At Hunter, I was a significant part in a product that would be sold across the country.
What aspect of the work did you enjoy the most?
I liked the amount of projects I was involved with. Every day offered new experience and I could feel my knowledge base growing. These sort of hands-on projects made me feel like my work mattered unlike school where every assignment had already been done before in a million ways. A very close second was my co-workers. Each person in the West Garage where I worked was fun to work with because of their enthusiasm and comedy.
What aspect of the work did you not enjoy?
There are going to be times in every job where something tedious needs to be done. Since my project worked with images, there were many times when I needed to look through hundreds of images for minute differences. There was also some Microsoft Excel work that needed to be done, which I could most of the time optimize with programming, but when I couldn't it was also tedious. I must emphasize most of the time my jobs were NOT tedious, and I was surprised at how fun most jobs were.
Did you learn anything?
I learned more than I could ever fit in a small paragraph. I learned 3 new programming languages (C#, XAML, Visual Basic), 6 types of applications (WPF, MFC, WinForms, UWP, Excel Modules, Xamarin Apps), Networking (Routing, Sockets, Protocols, Servers), Camera Settings (Exposure, Contrast, Gain, etc.), Interoperability (COM, Reflection, Drivers), Front Ends, Source Control (TFS, GitHub), Applied Mathematics (Trigonometry to Aim Cameras)…Have you seen enough?
What was the dress code?
Business Casual: A collared shirt with khakis or black slacks.
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 always had help if I needed it. Co-ops work with a co-op partner and work is divided up between the two. I was strong with software so I did most of the software and my co-op partner, Curry Spray, was good at hardware, so he did most of that. If either of us had trouble we asked each other for help. It is much better than teamwork at school because at school many teams were bad because some people just didn't work. Hunter hires great students who are willing to put in the work.
What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to other places you have been)
I grew up in Saint Louis and the only other place I've lived is Rolla. Rolla does not have anywhere near the sights/events that Saint Louis has. There are many bars, clubs, monuments, restaurants, and attractions and you should never be bored. The only downside is traffic can be heavy at times.
What were your living arrangements during co-op? This question is especially important for those that are not from St. Louis.
My parents live in the suburbs of Saint Louis and I stayed with them.
How was the supervision?
My awesome boss was Dave Voeller. It was great to have an experienced engineer lead me through the production of a product. He, along with the other engineers on the project, Bill Heine and Don Klarer, were there to clarify anytime I had questions. I never felt rushed to finish a program and I always had work to do. Dave let me know what priority each of the projects I had to work on was. I was especially interested in Windows 10 Universal, so Dave would lay out time to work on it.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself, Hunter Engineering, the coop program or the work?
Hunter was a great co-op because of the experience, learning, and real-world problems I faced. The pay was also especially nice.