Charles Johannigmeier (May 2018 - January 2019 & May 2019 - August 2019)
Name: Charles Johannigmeier
School: Southern Illinois University: Edwardsville
Major: Computer Engineering
Co-op period: May 2018 - January 2019 & May 2019 - August 2019
What was the interview process like?
I was contacted by Megan Pieper a couple weeks after applying to schedule an interview on site at Hunter. I drove to Hunter for the interview and took a short aptitude test. After the test I spoke with both Andrew Nevin and Dave Voeller about my resume, my different school/personal projects and goals, and what kind of projects a Co-op at Hunter would be involved in. After the interview, I was compensated for travel expenses and told that I would be contacted in a couple weeks whether I got the job or not. About a week later, I got a call from Megan saying that Dave Voeller had offered me the position. For my second Co-op term, I was contacted by Dave during the next semester if I was still interested in coming back for the summer.
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.
Most of the work involved researching a topic, and using that research to develop the desired program/script/prototype to get the job done. Some programming experience would definitely be needed as almost every project heavily involved some sort of programming (C++, C#, Python). I only knew C++ and Java going into the Co-op but quickly learned how to use C# and Python without much trouble just by knowing basic programming ideas. Most of what I learned on the job won’t necessarily be taught in school as it involved heavy analytical thinking, research and development without the guarantee that anything will even work and figuring out how to make it work.
What experience do you think will be the most useful for you in the future?
I believe the most useful experience I had at Hunter was being able to watch a project slowly progress towards a goal that was thought nearly impossible when starting and developing working programs/prototypes in a work environment that may even be developed fully into a product in the future. After my second Coop at Hunter, I applied for and accepted an offer as a full time employee, so most of the experience I’ve gained will directly apply to my first position after graduation.
How do you think the overall experience will help you in your career?
The analytical thinking that I developed over the course of this Co-op will definitely help my confidence and overall knowledge when going into a future career after graduation and has calmed a lot of my nerves regarding the future. The knowledge of how hunter operates, and how some current products work will definitely help me when starting full time here after graduation.
How do you think the overall experience will help you in your next job interview?
I think this experience will help me feel more confident about the skills I have because I have already shown that I can use these skills effectively on the job and learn new technical skills quickly. My list of experiences and projects has also grown exponentially giving me much more to talk about when asked about experiences.
What aspect of the work did you enjoy the most?
The most enjoyable part of this job was the ability to learn about multiple new topics on the job and watch how these can be used and developed as a product in the future. Most of my time at Hunter was spent working on the same project, so working towards an end goal and watching it progress throughout my time there was very rewarding.
What aspect of the work did you not enjoy?
Sometimes research on a topic would stall or even stop completely with the limited number of resources out there on the topic.
Did you learn anything?
There are many things that I learned including using a microcontroller to interface and synchronize different cameras with a C# program, multiple different camera APIs and SDKs, Machine learning (Tensorflow) and its applications, Computer Vision applications (OpenCV), C#/SQL/Python, and better programming practices in general.
What was the dress code?
The dress code was khakis/slacks with a 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?
For the first three months I had the opportunity to work together with another Co-op who was very helpful when explaining the long term research goals that Dave has and the different projects he has done that I would be taking over. After that the job was mostly individual with some projects involving a CS or ME Co-op as well.
What are the pros/cons of working in Saint Louis? (Maybe compare it to other places you have been)
I’ve lived in the St. Louis area my whole life so being able to get this experience close to home was definitely a great plus. Overall St. Louis is a great place and can be very fun after work and on the weekends. I can’t really compare St. Louis to anywhere else as it is the only area I have worked in so far.
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 the St. Louis area, I stayed at my home in Bethalto IL, having a 45 min drive to and from work daily.
How was the supervision?
Dave was a very hands off boss giving general directions and goals regarding a project and leaving me to research at my own pace. This was very good in allowing me to think analytically about a topic without just listening to somebody tell me how to do everything, but sometimes would result in stalls of progress when I couldn’t think of anything else. For my first term, engineering was in a separate building which made communication difficult sometimes, but now everybody is in the same building so it’s much better.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself, Hunter Engineering, the coop program or the work?
I have nothing but positives to say about Hunter Engineering and the Co-op experience as a whole. The work environment was very laid back allowing more freedom than would be allowed at other Co-op/Intern experiences while still maintaining a good work environment. As a result of the hands off approach Dave takes with his Co-ops, it can be very easy to slack off and become distracted, but can also greatly enhance the learning and experience when approaching each project with passion. The co-op directly led to being offered a full-time position after graduation for me, so if you enjoy what you’re working on and have shown dedication to your work (and the timing works out), there can possibly be options for full-time employment after.