Unlike most other engineering physics students at Carleton who prefer to remain within the limits of engineering, I had chosen to apply for a software developer co-op position at Pythian in 2014. For those of you who do not know much about the engineering physics program (I get that a lot and so I will save you the trip to Google and tell you), this is how Stanford University describes their engineering physics program: “Engineering Physics prepares students to apply physics to tackle 21st century engineering challenges and to apply engineering to address 21st century questions in physics.” As you can imagine, very little to do with software development. You might ask, then why apply to Pythian?
Programming is changing the way our world functions. Look at the finance sectors: companies rely on complicated algorithms to determine where they should be investing their resources which in turn determines the course of growth for the company. In science and technology, algorithms help us make sense of huge amounts of unstructured data which would otherwise take us years to process, and help us understand and solve many or our 21st century problems. Clearly, learning how to write these algorithms or code cannot be a bad idea, rather, one that will be invaluable. A wise or a not so wise man once said, (you will know what I mean if you have seen the movie iRobot): “If you cannot solve a problem, make a program that can.” In a way, maybe I intend to apply physics to tackle all of 21st century problems by writing programs. (That totally made sense in my head).
Whatever it might be, my interest in programming or my mission to somehow tie physics, engineering, and programming together, I found myself looking forward to an interview with Pythian. I remember having to call in for a Skype interview. While waiting for my interviewers to join the call, I remember thinking about all the horror co-op stories I had heard: How you will be given piles of books to read over your work term (you might have guessed from this blog so far, not much of a reader, this one. If I hit 500 words, first round’s on me!). Furthermore, horror stories of how students are usually labeled as a co-op and given no meaningful work at all.
Just as I was drifting away in my thoughts, my interviewers joined the call. And much to my surprise they were not the traditional hiring managers in their formal dresses making you feel like just another interviewee in a long list of interviewees. Instead they were warm and friendly people who were genuinely interested in what I could offer to the company as a co-op student. The programming languages I knew, which one was my favourite, the kind of programs I had written, and more. They clearly stated the kind of work I could expect as a co-op student, which was exactly the same kind of work that the team was going to be doing. And most importantly, my interviewers seemed to be enjoying the kind of work they do and the place they work at.
So, when I was offered the co-op position at Pythian. I knew I had to say yes!
My pleasant experience with Pythian has continued ever since. The most enjoyable aspect of my work has been the fact that I am involved in a lot of the team projects which means I am always learning something new and gaining more knowledge each day, after each project. I feel that in an industry like this, the best way to learn is by experience and exposure. At Pythian that is exactly what I am getting.
And if those are not good enough reasons to enjoy working for this company, I also have the privilege of working with some extremely experienced and knowledgeable people in the web development industry. Bill Gates had once suggested that he wants to hire the smartest people at Microsoft and surround himself with them. This would create an environment where everyone would learn from each other and excel in their work. And I agree with that. Well now if you are the next Bill Gates, go ahead, create your multibillion dollar company and hire the best of the best and immerse yourself in the presence of all that knowledge and intelligence. But I feel I have found myself a great alternative, a poor man approach, a student budget approach or whatever you want to call it, take full advantage of working with some really talented people and learn as much as you can.
Today, five months into my yearlong placement with Pythian, I could not be more sure and proud of becoming a part of this exciting company, becoming a Pythianite. And I feel my time spent in this company has put me well in course to complete my goal of tying physics, engineering and programming together.
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