In this installment of Inside NetMotion, we had the pleasure of speaking with Emmanuel Ekamen, a passionate and dedicated co-op student working at NetMotion’s engineering hub in Victoria, BC. Emmanuel, or Mani as we call him, is approaching the end of his 8-month co-op term here as a Tools and Automation Developer, so before he wraps up we wanted to spend some time with him, reflecting on his experiences at NetMotion and what drew him to this opportunity.
For those of you not familiar with a co-op, it is similar to an internship in the US, or work experience in Australia. Co-ops are often optional but sometimes a required part of getting a degree, depending on the particular university program. In Canada, co-ops are most often paid, full-time positions that can last anywhere from four months to an entire year! Typically, students take on different co-op opportunities during their course, and alternate between working and academic semesters throughout their degree. The goal of these co-op programs is to expose students to different career paths and help them figure out what they want to do post-graduation.
Mani is a 3rd year software engineer at the University of Victoria. He moved to Victoria from Nigeria in 2016 with a plan to study electrical engineering.
“I’ve always been interested in computers. After a conversation with my parents, we decided that electrical engineering would be a good option for me. But it turns out that electrical engineering is very focused on wiring and designing physical equipment, which I didn’t like.”Mani Ekanem, Co-Op Student, University of Victoria, B.C.
It wasn’t until Mani had finished his first co-op, which involved software development, that he decided he needed to make a change. That hands-on experience was vital in helping him realize that software engineering was a better path for him.
Now, Mani is applying what he’s learning from his software engineering degree here at NetMotion by developing tools and going through a series of QA processes and performance testing, all in order to ensure that the user experience is the best that it can possibly be.
When Mani started looking for a co-op, he decided to look for job postings on a variety of different platforms in order to get a full picture of the kinds of positions available. He came across a NetMotion job posting on Learning In Motion, a co-op and career portal catering specifically for the UVic community. What initially caught his interest about the position was the chance to learn more about networking, a topic he had recently studied in one of his courses.
“I see a co-op as an opportunity to apply what I’m learning in school, but more broadly it’s about expanding my knowledge and advancing my skill set.”
He later found out that an old friend of his had previously worked at NetMotion as a co-op student (to find out more about Janhavi’s experience, check out that post here)! But the part that really convinced Mani about the position was the interview.
“They asked me practical questions about how I would go about solving problems. It was a very engaging conversation. I felt a sense of community right away and we were talking as if I was already a part of the team.”
The co-op experience
Co-op positions at NetMotion are divided into two 4-month blocks. The first four months of the co-op are all about getting to know the role and the tools that are necessary to succeed. During this time, students have to absorb as much information as they possibly can from their team. It’s a busy time, but an invaluable part of the program.
Emmanuel pointed out that in previous co-ops, he often felt as though he hadn’t had enough responsibility or work to do, or that the tasks he was given weren’t interesting. By contrast, his experience at NetMotion has been challenging and engaging, which has made him feel that his work is valued and actually making an impact on the company and NetMotion’s end users.
It’s in the second half of the co-op term that students’ hands-on experience ramps up. Mani gradually picked up testing and was given more responsibility for design and development.
“There was a point where I asked myself, ‘Can I handle this?,’ but the outstanding support from my team and my manager made a huge difference. Everyone is always so willing to help, it motivated me to continuously learn and provide my best work.”
Mani really enjoyed the camaraderie and the level of dedication his manager, Paul, had towards his professional development. When he first started, Paul asked him about his strengths as well as areas where he thought he could improve. By doing so, Paul was able to facilitate different situations where Mani could get more practice in those areas. In one case, he got the chance to improve his presentation skills by doing a demonstration for his team on a test he was working on. Things like these helped him become a more well-rounded developer with real-life deliverables.
Mani also liked the fact that he and Paul would meet for biweekly check-ins where they would catch up and make sure that he was making progress on things that they both found valuable.
This type of hands-on management style came with a steep learning curve, but it also brought many rewards. In his eight months at NetMotion, Mani is most proud of his new-found ability to seamlessly transition between different coding languages.
“During my entire time here, no one has ever made me feel like just an intern. People value my input and have high expectations. There is always something to work on and I really appreciate being given the chance to problem-solve.”
After his experience at NetMotion, Mani will have completed his co-op requirements to earn his degree. He will be going back to school in May to complete his last few academic semesters so that he can graduate in 2022 with a degree in software engineering.
Mani is excited to become an advanced developer with experience working on all kinds of modern devices. He thoroughly enjoyed his time at NetMotion, and he would love to join the team again one day.
His advice to anyone considering a path in software engineering? Definitely go for it! He believes that companies are going to need the skills of a developer for a long time. But more importantly, whichever company you decide to work for, be sure to go somewhere that values you and your work.
Mani can clearly see his influence here at NetMotion and he feels his input and opinion is always appreciated. We are so happy to have had him as part of the NetMotion team.
Mani – we wish you all the best in the future and we hope you will keep in touch!
If you’re interested in gaining job experience with NetMotion, check out the latest roles here. You can also sign up for alerts, to be notified whenever a new role becomes available. Alternatively, you can chat with your co-op coordinator about possible opportunities!