Mia Kilborn

Mia sure is one busy Gryphon! In addition to being an active member of the Guelph Coding Community & the Society of Computing and Information Sciences, she volunteered as the financial coordinator for Guelph Queer Equality, participated on the hiring committee for the “Go for Gold Search Committee”, and helped organize the Ontario Conference for Women in Computing at the University of Guelph. Mia has truly has a diverse co-op experience, having had the opportunity to work in province, out of province & out of country.

Degree: Bachelor of Computing

Major: Software Engineering

Mia balancing on the top of a mountain

Why did you choose to study co-op at the University of Guelph?

I chose to come to Guelph because I liked the atmosphere compared to other schools. I recognized that it's extremely important to choose a school which has an environment that sets me up to enjoy life both inside and outside of my academic studies. If I can’t be happy, I’m not going to succeed. Guelph is just a lovely town.

Specifically, I chose to do co-op for a couple reasons. First and foremost, the job experience. Coming from high school, I had no experience in computing and really wanted to graduate with real work experience under my belt. Secondly, university is hard and stressful. There’s no way around that. Co-op provides you with the opportunity to take time off school, destress and get excited to return back to your studies when it’s time. Additionally, doing a co-op program really helps you out financially.

Can you describe the work terms you have completed?

So I started out by completing my first two co-op placements in Guelph. The first was with the Government of Ontario, cleaning up some data quality and organization issues they were having as well as helping design a “Knowledgement Management System”.  After that, I worked for a company called Trans Plus Corp. There, I worked on migrating their flagship product from VB6 to VB.NET.

For my third co-op position, I moved out to Montreal to work for Morgan Stanley Financial. I worked in cloud security, developing a prototype for a new method of integrating multiple third party cloud systems (both software as a service and platforms as a service) with in-house security enforcement systems. My proof of concept, CELT, was later presented at the Morgan Stanley Tech Expo in Montreal.

For my last two co-op placements, I was out in Seattle, Washington, USA working at Amazon.com’s headquarters. I worked in the customer behaviour department for a team that measures changes in the behaviour of amazon’s customers against changes to the website. I worked primarily in web development (front and back end), specifically using Java, Javascript, JQuery and Groovy.

What advice would you give to first year co-op students?

I remember being in first year, looking at the listing of coop jobs. Specifically looking at the list of technologies they wanted you to know. I was overwhelmed and convinced that there was no way anyone was going to hire me - I didn’t know everything that they wanted me to. I would strongly encourage students to apply for any job that sounds interesting to them, regardless of what experience they have compared to what the listing is asking for. Don’t lie on your resume, be honest about what you don’t know, but don’t let it hold you back when applying.

My second piece of advice is learn how to take a technical interview. This is extremely important. The COOP*1100 course that you take in second year will not prepare you for our interviews. There are some great resources out there, like the book - Cracking the Coding Interview, for example. Whenever you work through practice questions. don’t cheat. Sit down with nothing but paper and a pen, or stand at a whiteboard. Code like that, it’s exactly what you can expect when you go in interviews. Sometimes, SOCIS  - The Society of Computing and Information Sciences occasionally puts on mock interview sessions. If possible, go to them!


For more information on Co-operative Education and Career Services, please visit https://www.recruitguelph.ca/cecs/