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IAmA Waterloo Mechanical student that just finished 2B and am going on my 4th co-op. AMA!

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Hey guys, 

My name is Laura, I just finished 2B Mechanical (Class of 2021) and am going on my 4th coop. I remember browsing and posting here while I was applying and I found it very helpful. 

Ask me anything about programs, academics, student life, transitions, co-op, spicy piazza drama, etc. and I will attempt to answer as best as I can.

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Do you use your gender minority status to land positions? 

Just curious. 
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I have never actively tried to leverage it (I don't participate in women in engineering events or HeForShe or any of that stuff at Waterloo) because I don't believe it should be an advantage, and I don't feel like it ever has been for me at least. The only way you can tell is my name on my resume. The gender ratios at my coops engineering teams have pretty much been what I expected, 3/15 for one and 2/11 for the other two. Never an equal 50/50 or whatever some big companies brag about trying to be.

However I have been in one interview where they were interviewing women just to say they were interviewing women, and it was very obvious. They really wanted to hire a guy that could vibe with the other guys. The sexist remarks really gave it away. I don't understand why they did this, probably their HR department forced them to, but it was a big waste of time.
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Finally! A normal f*cking female who wants to be an “Engineer” and not a “Female Engineer.” 

It’s women like you who restore my respect for your gender. 
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Haha I know what you're saying. I get the impression that the "Female Engineer" attitude is more common in the programming-focused programs like software and ECE. Or I definitely hear a lot more complaining about gender ratios from those programs.
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Is it easy for you to find coops? What is the rough percentage of acceptance?
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I had an okay time finding my first coop, I had a sideproject that involved a lot of prototyping and 3D printing so that helped me out a lot. However I have friends that had a rougher time, some needed to keep looking for jobs well into the exam period. It all depends on how much experience you have coming in, and how you present yourself in interviews.

First coop employment rates can be terrible,  Currently 67% in Mech and 76% in Tron. The "99% Employment Rate" you see advertised is complete bullcrap. The university should not advertise those lies, and I'm sorry for the people who see that statistic and think it's real.

After the first coop I had a much easier time, I never had to go into continuous round to find my next jobs, and I have always gotten the type of job I wanted (Product design and development). So it does get much easier to find jobs after 1st coop, and the employment rates are much better too.
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Just out of curiosity, what kind of side projects did you do and what advice would you give to someone in the same boat? I'm a first year computer engineering student (not at Waterloo, sadly) currently drawing up a plan for one to work on in the summer but it doesn't seem to be quite as complex as yours based on the post above.

And as someone in her 4th coop, would you say work experience plays a huge factor in securing a coop placement? Even if it isn't remotely science related? I used to work as CNE, Starbucks and Cineplex and volunteered as math/science tutor.  I even have a GitHub profile if that helps.

Sorry if my questions sound dumb!
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As a mech, I can't answer directly about computer science projects, but I'll try anyways.

In my case I knew I wanted to go into new product design/development, so I took CAD classes in high school and started building stuff right away. This lead down a slippery slope of eventually buying my own 3D printer and meeting 2 like-minded friends to design stuff together. By the time I got to my first year CAD class I was able to skip lectures and finish with a good grade anyways.

I had built up a website with all the objects I had designed, and I linked that on my resume. Sortof like how a software person would link their github. Which brings me to the point: Yes you should definitely have a github. Put anything on there that you think employers might like, preferably stuff that you've done in your own time, or stuff that isn't obviously work done for school.

Having some unrelated experience helps, but definitely try to get going on the side projects and the relevant experience as soon as possible. Honestly my unrelated experience never really came up in any of my interviews except to make ninja jokes (karate instructor for 4 years). But if you can phrase it in a good way (teamwork, management, etc) then it can't hurt you.


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A nervous Prospective Freshman for Mech/Tronics here!
Thank you for lending your time!
Do you remember your admission averages?
How is the grading system?
What companies did you join for your CO-OP?
What well-renowned companies did others in your class join?
Looking back, how would you rate your AIF?
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Hey! Tron is a great choice if you're also into the hardware/software side of things.

My admissions average was a 94 or so. However that was 2.5 years ago now and admissions averages have gone up significantly since then. The grading system that Waterloo uses is percentages, we don't use GPA like some other universities. 

All 4 of my coops were in some form of product design and development, which is what I know I want to do after I graduate, so I was very lucky to be in the correct path starting from my first coop. My first coop was at Spin Master Toys, my second and third coops were at a small company that makes touch screens, and my current (fourth) coop is at a big company that makes high voltage power distribution equipment. I know people in my class who've worked for the big automotive companies like Toyota, Honda, and GM, which are pretty sought-after jobs in mech if you're into cars. 

I'd say my AIF was pretty average, I had a side project that used a lot of prototyping and 3D printing, as well as Piano, Rugby, and Karate instructor.
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