Co-op Placements a Win-Win
November 17 2021, 11:25 AM
For Massan Dopegno, NB Power is an opportunity to put what she’s learning at Université De Moncton (U de M) into action.
The third-year Computer Science student started her first eight-month Co-op term with our Digital Technology team on May 3, 2021.
Massan is from Togo, a country in West Africa. She began her post-secondary studies in Togo and realized that she wanted to study abroad. After researching her options as an international student, she chose U de M and travelled to Canada for the first time, arriving in the dead of winter in 2019.
“Arriving in a new place where I knew no one was a big adjustment, and then on top of that it was -15 C, something I hadn’t felt before,” says Massan. “But New Brunswick is great – I really like it here. I’ve found people here very enthusiastic and open minded to learn about my culture and share their own. From day one, I’ve felt welcomed by New Brunswickers, my U de M community and NB Power."
To be eligible for a Co-op term at NB Power, students must be enrolled in Co-op programs at post-secondary institutions. This means that their education alternates between academic studies and periods of paid job experience to enhance their overall learning.
Massan takes direction from Gino Arseneau, Senior IT Specialist, who has worked at NB Power for 30 years. Gino’s group is responsible for the development and support of applications such as e-Forms, Timesheet and off-the-shelf applications like PeopleSoft and SAP.
Gino says the partnership with post-secondary institutions is mutually beneficial. He is currently leading four Co-op employees from U de M and UNB: Massan, Cody Dunnett, Nick Trask and Nicole Duplessis. They are primarily focused on custom application development using Microsoft Visual Studio.
“I love working with students – they are full of energy and so eager to learn,” says Gino. “We see them bringing new ideas to the table every day. They are so engaged because we’re giving them a chance to gain practical experience that links to their theoretical learning in school. A positive Co-op term enhances the student’s overall education by also providing experience with how businesses operate and the social aspect of a real workplace.”
For Gino’s team, there’s a mix of simple and complex work to find that sweet spot between keeping students engaged but not overloaded. For many, it’s their first chance to work in both development (creation and testing) and production (live, in use) environments.
“I really love when a colleague comes to us with an issue and we get to go solve it,” said Massan. “Gino sets the direction, but doesn’t give us the solution, and he’s there if we get stuck. But we really get a chance to stand on our own. It’s been an amazing experience to be treated as a peer and have my opinions and expertise respected.”
The most common Co-op placements at NB Power involve Power Engineering, Business Administration, Digital Technology and Engineering.
Carole Volpe, Senior Manager, Careers & Resourcing, says that Co-op placements with universities and colleges allow NB Power to connect with future employees while meeting business needs.
“The ultimate goal is that we’ll capture the attention of these students so they’ll want to work at NB Power after graduation,” said Carole. “We see it all the time – the next-level caliber of job candidates who participated in Co-op programs. It might take longer to complete your program, but the hands-on experience is invaluable.”
Massan is very happy with her decision to go through a Co-op program. She can already see how she’ll have an edge when it comes to job hunting after graduation.
“Even in just a few months, my confidence in my abilities has grown,” said Massan. “Not to mention that moving to Fredericton and starting this role is helping me improve my English and network in new ways. I am so thankful for this opportunity and know it is setting me up for success with the rest of my program when I return to school this winter.”
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