Work Terms Across Canada: Computer Science student Daniel Wang rediscovers Blackberry in Ottawa

Tell me about you – what’s your program and why did you choose to study it? 

I’m currently pursuing a specialists in computer science with a focus in entrepreneurship. As a kid, my mom just threw me into a programming class I attended on the weekends as an extracurricular. I ended up really enjoying my time programming and it gave me a thrill each time I could see that I’ve created something, no matter how small the program. I followed that fondness that I had towards programming through high school and here I am.

What career(s) are you currently considering?

I’m still unsure about the career path I want to take simply because I haven’t found a role that really just “clicks.” I’ve worked in both a devops/sysadmin role and a developer role, but I’ve also always wanted to do something client-facing. That’s why I’m currently doing a specialists with a focus in entrepreneurship, I don’t really want to be sitting in front of a computer all day. I’m currently doing a startup with a friend of mine and we’re utilizing the resources given to us by The Bridge and that’s definitely a step in the right direction in terms of what I want to be doing with my time.

Tell me about your job at Blackberry. What drew you to it?

When I first got an email stating that I received an interview from Blackberry, I was really unsure about whether I would like to work there at all. I was worried that people only knew Blackberry as an ancient company that failed to stay afloat, so I did a little research and all I could find were articles stating good things about Blackberry’s comeback. I decided that it’d be worth a shot and did my best on my interview. I ended up accepting an offer for a role in automation, which is something I dabbled in quite a bit at my previous work term. I think it has something to do with the surprise factor of “oh yeah, I know Blackberry” and the curiousity of “what are they up to now?” that drew me in.

What does an average day look like for you right now?

I have a pretty flexible schedule, so I usually come in at around 8:00am. In the tech industry, days don’t really have fixed hours so long as you’re hitting your objectives and are delivering quality work, so I usually wind up working a 7-8 hour day based on when I arrive. Once I’m in the office, I take advantage of the free breakfast, snacks, and coffee every morning then head straight for my desk, where I check up on the goals and objectives the team and I have set up and figure out what I should prioritize. Right now, I’m analyzing a proprietory piece of technology we use for automated testing of Blackberry’s QNX operating system. It’s no longer maintained internally so the department wants to figure out if it’s worth migrating to a new framework or if we should continue developing on the same workflow they’ve been developing on for years. After a few breaks here and there, I usually wrap up at around 4:00pm. I usually spend the reset of my day cooking, going to the gym, doing a few online courses, then heading to sleep.

Were you nervous to move? Excited? Both?

I think it was much more exciting than nerve-wracking. I lived on residence for my first year at UTSC and wanted to experience living away from home again. My girlfriend was already living in Ottawa so I had a roommate lined up as a bonus! What’s your experience been like living there so far? It’s definitely been a big change in lifestyle. I’ve really come to realize how much my parents help me in my every-day life. Now that I’m not living at home, I have to take responsibility for every little aspect of life. I think it’s definitely changed me for the better, I feel a lot more like an adult now that I’ve settled in. So I guess the freedom you get of living away from home is both the best and the worst part.

What are your favourite Ottawa spots, and why? 

There are way too many to list so I’ll give you my top 3:

Favourite breakfast spot: The staff at Kettleman’s Bagels make fresh bagels right in front of you with so many choices. This is by far my favourite place to grab breakfast / brunch.

Best place for a night out: If you want to go grab a drink at a bar or have a nice dinner, TD Place is the place to be. It hosts a ton of restaurants and bars and all the lights make it a really beautiful place to be at night!

My go-to chill spot: Byward Market Going for walks is something I recommend everyone try out if you’re not doing it already. Byward market is a lovely place to stroll around or sit down and have a cup of coffee (or bubble tea). It’s got a nice atmosphere in the evening and it’s a great place if you like people-watching.

What advice, if any, would you give to a student considering a work term outside of Toronto?

If you have the chance to experience another city, province, or even country, go for it! It’s something that not many people have the chance to do and I think that being in a new place with different people and a different culture around you allows you to really learn more about yourself.