Computer Science specialist Edgar Sarkisian headed off to Quebec City for a work term as a C#/dot NET developer. Here's a glimpse into his projects, life in la belle province, and some advice to students considering work terms outside of Toronto.
Tell me about you – what’s your program and why did you choose to study it?
I'm in my 3rd year studying computer science. I chose it because I love tech and I know there's no other field I'm interested enough in to go to university for.
What career(s) are you currently considering?
Software engineer or any career where I get to be directly involved in the development of a tech product.
Tell me about your job at ION Group. What drew you to it?
What I liked about ION Group was their development method, that is, how they organize their work and every team member's responsibilities. They follow all the best practices of scrum development: they have a standup meeting every morning, weekly sprints, user stories, scrum poker, code reviews where the reviewer is automatically chosen at random as soon as anyone checks in, weekly retrospectives, basically all the good practices they teach us at school and more. The leadership really cares about our workflow and is always looking for ways to improve it. Also working in Quebec City seemed like fun because they're FULLY french (unlike Montreal) so I would have the chance to put my French to the test!
What do you do there?
My title is C#/dot NET developer, but since the entire team is only 6 people and everyone should be able to do any task on the board, I touch a bit of everything, including front-end, back-end and database scripts.
What does an average day look like for you right now?
Every week we take on a set of items that we hope to finish in the sprint and break them up into tasks, so apart from meetings and code reviews every day I assign myself tasks and work through them (usually with the help of the other team members).
Were you nervous to move there? Excited? Both?
Both! My biggest worry was that I wouldn't be able to make any friends there but as you'll find out that certainly wasn't the case! But I was mostly excited because this will be my first experience living away from my family.
What’s your experience been like living there so far? (Parlez-vous français ?)
So far its been awesome! I'm living in the University of Laval residences with tons of other students my age so I didn't need to worry at all about making friends. My French is decent because I was in the French immersion program since grade 1, only thing is the program doesn't prepare you for the Quebecois French accent so it took a little while to get used to (c'est ben difficile, l'français quebecois). On the other hand, Francophone universities in Quebec accept tons of Europeans from French-speaking countries, so I made a bunch of cool friends from France and Belgium here in the residences who I can understand a lot easier. (Also they come in handy if I ever visit Europe and need a place to stay).
Where would you recommend that other co-op students who relocate to Quebec City check out?
Vieux Quebec (old Quebec) is really cool. With its cobblestone streets and 18th century buildings, it’s the most European-looking place I've ever seen in Canada. And there’s always some bakery or cafe or ice cream shop you can find that you haven't visited yet. Any chance I get, I go exploring through Vieux Quebec.
What advice, if any, would you give to a student considering a work term outside of Toronto?
If you can, try to find a place to live with other co-ops or a university residence. Especially if you're relocating there alone, getting used to living in a new city can be hard sometimes and it really helps when you make friends. Other than that, don't forget to enjoy the city! Co-op means you don't have any homework like normal school, so go out and make the most of your free time!