Co-op Chronicles: Thriving in Computer Engineering

"I developed a strong work ethic, leadership and teamwork skills through my program."

 Arya Subramanyam

Arya Subramanyam

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2023
  • Program:
  • Campus: Vancouver

Job title as of June 2023: Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services

Why did you want to study engineering?

Although I was interested in the sciences in high school, I was more intrigued by opportunities to apply concepts rather than doing straight research. I also knew I was inclined to work in industry, which solidified engineering as the right choice for me over science, faculty-wise.

Why Engineering

Why did you decide on UBC Engineering?

Unlike some other schools, UBC Engineering allows students to explore various engineering specializations before you commit to one of them in second year. As someone who was confused about what I wanted to major in, I welcomed this opportunity to explore my interests and identify what I was passionate about.

Engineering Specializations

How did you decide to specialize in Computer Engineering?

I was required to take APSC 160 as a part of my first-year requirements, which introduced me to the world of computers and software. I hadn’t done any coding or programming before, but I found myself playing around with what I had built for assignments and adding complexity to my work. I realized that this area of engineering really excited me, which is why I chose Computer Engineering as my specialization. 

APSC 160 Computer Engineering

Tell us about your co-op work terms.

I had three fantastic co-op positions. I first worked as a Full Stack Developer at Shift Technologies for eight months, where I had the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to releases and impact thousands of users with my work on their product. I then worked at Aquatic Informatics as a Software Engineer, developing a water data analysis and visualization platform. Finally, I worked as a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services where I dove into the world of cloud computing and had the chance to try a role that was highly technical as well as customer-facing, combining business and technology.

Co-opShift TechnologiesAquatic Informatic Amazon Web Services

Did you have to relocate for co-op? Any advice for other students moving to a new city for a work term?

For my last work term, I had to relocate to Toronto. Moving to a new city can be daunting, but it’s also extremely exciting. My advice would be to behave like a tourist if the city is new to you - discover different spots, restaurants and activities that you enjoy.

To meet new people, you must put yourself out there! Don’t be afraid to approach strangers and start a conversation with them, or attend music or food festivals and clubs that are conducive to connecting with people.

Additionally, make the most of your experience working in an office environment. Engage with your coworkers and take part in company events.

This will allow you to both integrate into the company culture and help grow your network in a more enjoyable and natural manner!

What do you think are the main benefits of co-op?

As an international student, I started with absolutely no connections in Canada. I did not know where or how to begin with job searching and the Co-op program definitely helped jumpstart this process. The career advisors and peer advisors at the Co-op Office are a great resource for answering questions about applications, job searching and interviews.

If you are confused about what roles you want to pursue or which industries you would like to work in, co-op is a great way to experience different positions and fields for a four-month period.

In most cases, employers or recruiters also value your technical work experience more than other projects or extracurriculars on your resume.

Through the Co-op Program, you receive a structured approach to gaining 16 months of work experience before you graduate. It’s an invaluable experience, especially with today’s cut-throat competition!

Advisors at the Co-op Office

What are some other highlights of your time at UBC?

I was involved with various clubs on campus, including Women in Engineering and UBC Voyage Design Team. In 2021, I was selected as the President of the Google Developer Student Club @ UBC. I was thrilled to have the chance to be in a leadership role and bring amazing opportunities to the UBC community. Our club organized events and projects to provide technical training and networking opportunities for students, and we gained 553 members and hosted 11 events with 700+ attendees. Our club’s success would not have been possible without the efforts and dedication of the entire Executive Team and I am extremely proud of the impact we created on the UBC community. 

Women in Engineering Google Developer Student Club @ UBC

What new skills do you think you’ve developed as an engineering student?

Apart from multiple extremely valuable technical skills specific to my discipline, I developed a strong work ethic, leadership and teamwork skills through my program.

Many courses require you to work in groups, which reflects the reality of working life, and I believe the engineering program has prepared me to communicate effectively and take initiative within team settings.

Most courses force you to push yourself and be creative with applying concepts to solve problems, which has strengthened my techniques for approaching problems and creating solutions. There are so many things that I can do now that I couldn't do before - my entire degree has opened me up to a new technical world (of software).

You moved to Canada from India. What was your experience like as an international student?

Moving to a new country as an international student can be extremely daunting, but it is one of the most exciting experiences to go through.

I initially faced challenges with finding my community at UBC. Joining various student groups, clubs and design teams on campus helped me meet other students with similar interests. My advice for others thinking of making this move would be to put yourself out there! Make the effort to connect with other students and get involved with communities that you are interested in. 

What are your current plans now that you have graduated?

I will be moving to Toronto to work as an Associate Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services.

I am thrilled to explore the world of cloud and connect with brilliant minds, at my full-time job.

I’ll be advising customers on how to create the most scalable, sustainable and high-performance architectures on the AWS Cloud, and I will help them design solutions for the same. I hope to create an impact by enabling customers to use cloud computing efficiently, which will help them reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption.

What are your top tips for students who incoming engineering students?

Prioritize your work and to be kind to yourself!

You’ll face multiple conflicting deadlines and massive numbers of assignments and projects to complete in parallel. Make smart decisions when planning out your schedule. Also, keep in mind that the university experience is not all about your grades. Ten years down the line, you will remember a night out with your friends much more than the regret of skipping one weekly quiz worth 1% of your grade. Constantly evaluate which will add the most overall value to your experience here at UBC, and not just in an academic sense.

Find me on: LinkedIn

Computer engineering co-op student at work

Computer Engineering

Computer engineers can change the world. Whether it is the systems that control our phones, cars, planes or robots — every automated device has a software or hardware engineer helping to create it. 

Computer Engineering

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