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Sara Dara

Sara Dara
"It is important for students to go after the co-op/internship placement they genuinely want and not to miss out on that opportunity."

 

 

Employer

Ontario Power Generation

Position

University Student

Type

Co-op

Duration

8 months

Program

Nuclear Engineering

Would you return to this employer?

Yes

Would you recommend your employer?

Yes

Would you return to a similar position?

Yes

 

Did you always know you wanted to do a co-op/ internship?

Before I even entered my first year of Nuclear Engineering, I knew that I wanted to partake in the co-op/internship program. I felt that the practical and pragmatic experience gained upon completion of a co-op/internship would be exceptionally beneficial towards my career. I knew that having an industrial and hands-on experience would provide me with the opportunity to further my knowledge in the nuclear industry, foster professional connections and establish relationships with working professionals.

Did you have any concerns or hesitations before you started?

I recall being extremely nervous, yet slightly excited before starting my co-op. The Nuclear Waste Facility is located in Bruce Power, therefore, this placement required me to move up North (Port Elgin). I was very hesitant to move far away and into a small town. I lived about 10 minutes away from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), so I never lived off on my own. I also struggled to find a place/house down there as well. On top everything, I was very anxious about starting a new job with professional workers. I constantly worried over the thought that my employers would dislike me or that I would mess up on a project.

What were your expectations?

I was expecting to use all of my knowledge gained from my program (thermodynamics, radiation protection, etc.) into the workplace as I assumed that they would not go over it. In addition, I thought the work-environment would be very strict with zero tolerance for mistakes and accidents.

How did your experience compare with your expectations?

While my expectations were slightly negative, my actual experience has been very pleasant. While it was useful to have a background in Nuclear Engineering, OPG provided a training (in-class lesson) to go over the basics of Nuclear, which briefly covered everything I have learned in my program. The work environment in the office building was surprisingly very friendly. The atmosphere was sociable and calming, allowing everyone to communicate properly with their peers.

Did you enjoy your experience?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my co-op experience at OPG and would definitely return.

What were your tasks and responsibilities?

My position was in the support group at the Nuclear Waste Management Division (NWMD) in OPG. I assisted/supported several departments (operations, maintenance, design engineering, etc.) with various tasks including project managements, reviewing procedures, and change in management reports. This position provided me with the opportunity to work with various companies/contractors, plan for future management changes and implement new initiatives within the company.

What was the work atmosphere like?

The overall atmosphere at work was professional, but also very friendly. From the very beginning, my department has been very supportive with guiding me through this major transition and answering my (numerous) questions. Weekly meetings/team huddles were held with the team to openly communicate and voice any concerns. Safety was always a top priority and we were always encouraged to speak out if there were any hazards/risks present.

Did you receive any additional training and/or opportunities?

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will provide orientation and training for students as required. My orientation covered the guidelines and principles within OPG, including various computer-based training (CBTs), CALs, etc. The training materials included lessons on the importance of safety, potential danger with nuclear power and general CNSC dose regulations. Radiation Protection (orange badge qualification) training is also provided if students are visiting the nuclear generating stations often.

What previous skills and/or competencies helped you in your role?

Skills that helped me in my role include time management, organization and most importantly communication (in-person, phone calls, and emails).

What previous skills and/or competencies did you develop during your placement?

Through my placement, I have learned to work successfully in a team, developed stronger writing skills, and have improved my abil-ity to multi-task.

What advice would you offer to students that want to pursue a co-op/internship?

I would advise students to practice in advance for their interviews through the Career Centre. It is important for students to go after the internship/co-op placement they genuinely want and not to miss out on that opportunity. There are various services available at UOIT to help students prepare for their interviews and land them their dream placement. Having a co-op/internship will allow stu-dents to establish relationships with working professionals, which will be extremely beneficial upon graduation.