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This September, AlphaKOR welcomed Frosina Filiposka, a local co-op student, to our Design Team! During her co-op placement, Frosina has had the opportunity to enhance her skills, learn new software, tools, and technologies. Her primary focus during her co-op has been to help in testing and documentation while reporting to our Software Development Manager, Tauseef Ahmad.

In this Career Insights feature, I ask Frosina questions about her co-op experience to date at AlphaKOR, her future ambitions, and more.

Meet Frosina! Frosina has always dreamed of being a programmer and owning her own company in the future, “I think that my obsession with Totally Spies and Spy Kids definitely contributed to this” she commented. Frosina is a member of an FRC team called the Amazon Warriors; an all-girls team focused on bringing forward female leadership roles in STEM-related fields. Frosina loves staying active and plays tennis semi-professionally. She also enjoys listening to music and writing her own songs. Her favourite thing to do is travel, and she would love to visit Turks and Caicos in the new year.

What drew you to this position?

I was very excited to begin my placement in this position. When I was researching for a potential placement, I wanted to make sure that the company also placed prominence on interests such as mine. I came across AlphaKOR along with my co-op teacher and I was instantly satisfied. I was able to perform my own research on the company values, read former/current employee reviews, AlphaKOR’s mission statement, the services they provide, and more.

While researching, I was pleased to know that the company offered Software Development services, as this is a field that I am interested in pursuing.  I have always been interested in coding from such an early age when I began my career in First Robotics. I have been involved with the FLL (First Lego League), and I am currently involved with the FRC (First Robotics Competition). I have also involved myself in workshops such as WETech, Build a Dream and various community participation with my robotics team.

How long is your co-op placement at AlphaKOR?

My placement at AlphaKOR is a full semester; from September 2021 to January 2022.

What motivates or drives you?

I have always been motivated by the desire to be successful; a need for achievement, a need for affiliation, and a need for power. Remembering where I came from and keeping that in the back of my mind is the first step. When I feel unmotivated, lazy, and sluggish, I make sure to remember that point in my life and learn from it. It is a driving factor for me since I am learning to be in competition with my past self. I have learned to appreciate my downfalls and ultimately learn from them.

What does the average day look like for you in your co-op placement?

I am an online student, so my experience might be different as compared to a student that is in the office. I usually begin my mornings by working on updating my projects. Shortly after my supervisor and I have a meeting to go over the progress I have made in the past day, and I receive constructive feedback that will help me improve my project. I usually contact Sage after the meetings, and we help each other go over the things that we learned that day if we have trouble understanding. I spend the rest of the day working on my project and implementing the new things that I learned that day.

What technical skillset is critical to your job?

The technical skillset critical to my job includes:

  • Knowledge of the full stacks (“End-to-end) – A good software engineer needs technical knowledge and technical skills. Not only is the software engineering scene constantly and rapidly changing with new technological advancements, but it is also very competitive and there are never enough individuals to meet the ever-growing demand. A software product is made of several layers – front-end, back-end, server-side, hardware, network, and database. A good software engineer will not only understand each of the components, but they will also be able to jump in and independently fix any problems in each phase of the process when required.
  • Programming languages – You must be able to combine creativity with an analytic mindset using data and user feedback to create functional projects. However, you must also be very knowledgeable of A LOT of programming languages. If you want to open the door for better opportunities, you should develop expertise that spans multiple languages. Having some sort of knowledge of certain languages will be helpful.
  • Time management – This ability ties everything together. Knowing how to prioritize tasks, automate key aspects of risk assessment, and keep yourself and your team on track is the characteristic that leads to successful projects.

What key qualities do you think someone in your role possesses? Why are these qualities important for this role?

Patience and curiosity would have to be the key qualities that are important for this role. In order to design something that you are proud of you must have the ambition for it and be willing to learn more.

There are always new technologies to learn, and individuals in this field must update their knowledge continuously. When things are going south and the code is not working as it should be, they must have patience and be able to locate the problem without having to stress too much about it. This requires a lot of patience because it is not an easy task; sometimes you would have to look through thousands of lines of code to fix a problem. The willingness and self-development skills also play a role in this. You must be willing to self-learn and adapt to fast-changing trends.

What is the most exciting part about your placement?

Learning new things would have to be the most exciting part of this whole experience. I am a very curious individual, and I tend to research things often just so I can say that I am knowledgeable of everything even if it is only a small fact. I like the fact that I can learn from my supervisor, but I can also go further and do some self-learning with the help of the internet.

What is the least exciting part about your placement?

Lack of challenges. Even though I would call myself a ‘work smarter, not harder’ person, I do like it when I am faced with a challenge. I would say that learning different programming languages is sort of a challenge when I am first being introduced to them, however, I thoroughly enjoy the learning experience.

What are your professional goals? What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

In the next year, I am hoping to take a computer science program at the University of Windsor. I will either take a Computer Science with a Software Engineering Specialization or a Business Administration and Computer Science with Honours. I also decided to integrate a co-op into my degree so that I can get real work experience and get hired after my internship. I will be working as a freelancer until I get hired. I am hoping to take my co-op in Vancouver. This would benefit me as I would like to go to my dream school – the University of British Columbia – for a master’s degree and further my studies there.

In 5 years, I would like to establish my own life and live on my own in Vancouver. I will need to financially support myself, so I think that working at a company would be the best because the income would be consistent as opposed to working as a freelancer. After I move to Vancouver, I would definitely try to start up my own business as that would be one of the long-term goals that I have to accomplish by the time I am 25.

What’s the most difficult challenge you have faced in life?

The most difficult challenge I have faced in life was moving across the ocean when I was just 10 years old. I grew up in a poverty-filled country in Europe and my family decided that we needed change. I came to a new country where I did not know the language or have any close relatives. Learning the new language was probably the most challenging part, however, the experience was not as much of a challenge since I really liked it here. It was not until I matured enough to realize that I miss my relatives in Europe, that I would do anything to go see them as soon as possible. I also miss the thrill, and as much as it seems depressing, I miss the idea of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

What have you learned at AlphaKOR that has helped you grow on a personal level?

Some of the strengths that I have gained during my co-op experience have been paying attention to detail (the code portion of my assignments need to be fully functional and have no mistakes; an extra letter or a comma can make or break the whole program), oral communication (having to present my ideas and thoughts has given me the opportunity to speak in front of a large group and therefore instilled confidence in me), and the ability to receive constructive feedback (I have been able to work as a team with my supervisor and get his thoughts on my progress and ways that I can improve). I have also been able to improve my time management skills. This has helped me a lot in my personal life and in my academics.

Although I have already started to improve my ability to receive constructive criticism, I would like to improve more. I believe that this skill is crucial when it comes to working in a group. I will begin by remembering the benefits of receiving constructive criticism and understanding the motivation and perception of the criticizer. It is ok to have emotions, however, I will try to keep a positive mindset as feedback will help me grow.

If you could choose to have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to change the probability of something. It would be like making wishes; however, you would be able to control it. I’m sure it would not be that simple but in a utopian world, manipulating the probability of something would ultimately benefit me. Let’s say that I was in a near-death situation for example. I would be able to manipulate the probability of getting fatally wounded to 0%. In this case, any harm would be avoided and I stay alive. If I wanted to win the lottery, I would change the probability to 100% and I get the winning numbers. This ability would kind of defeat the purpose of the saying ‘everything happens for a reason, however, if I really wanted to be ethical with my usage of the ability, I would simply alter the probability of something to 50%.

Careers in Business Technology

Thank you, Frosina, for sharing insight about your co-op placement experience with us, and for your contribution to AlphaKOR! We are so happy to have you here.

Are you an energetic and passionate individual who thrives on providing excellent service to both clients and fellow staff? If so, we want AlphaKOR to be the place you want to work. We want you to love your job. Because when you love your job, you’ll do great things. Come and do great things with us! To view our current openings, please visit our Career Opportunities page.

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