By: Tim McCusker
Tim McCusker, senior in Computer Engineering at Wentworth, recently completed his second mandatory co-op with SparkCharge in Somerville. Tim shared his experience with CO-OPS + CAREERS:
- Describe your role at SparkCharge.
My co-op was at a start-up company called SparkCharge operating out of Greentown Labs in Somerville, MA. The largest clean energy tech incubator in North America. SparkCharge is developing a portable, ultrafast, modular charging station to eliminate range anxiety for electric vehicle owners everywhere. My role at SparkCharge is supporting the chief engineer as an Electrical and Embedded Systems Engineer while our team deploys a pilot device to the field.
- Why were you interested in completing your co-op at SparkCharge?
I found SparkCharge through The Massachusetts Clean Energy Internship Program run by MassCEC. What interested me initially was how practical SparkCharge’s technology is. Portable EV charging is an essential step towards a realistic EV future. I agreed to come into Greentown Labs where SparkCharge’s engineering team currently operates for an interview and tour of the facility. Greentown Labs is an incredibly exciting environment packed with a diverse variety of clean energy start-ups boasting an active and robust community of professionals with a common goal, to drive the growth of clean energy technology. I could not miss the opportunity to be a part of this community which solidified my interest in completing my co-op at SparkCharge.
- How has your second mandatory co-op differed from your first mandatory co-op?
The most significant difference I’ve experienced between my first and second mandatory co-ops is the size/current stage of the company I was working for. My first co-op company is an international company founded in the early 1960’s. Thousands of employees, many departments, large facilities, etc. Most of my working experience was gained working on long existing products on a team of 20+ engineers. At SparkCharge I get to be a part of a ten-person start-up company with a six-person engineering team developing a new product which, when I joined the team, had just entered its pilot stage. Seeing and experiencing the engineering process at this early stage provides a wealth of knowledge that extends past my chosen engineering field.
- While on co-op, what project(s) have you been a part of that inspired you?
Mainly my projects have been developing test fixtures for hardware validation, assisting the chief engineer in device testing, and managing the assembly of pilot units in preparation for field testing. I’ve also been given tasks involving circuit & pcb design, software projects, and firmware development.
- What did you need to focus on inside or outside of the classroom to be successful as a candidate?
Focus on having a good resume, good interviewing skills and getting quality applications in the hands of hiring managers as early in the hiring process as possible.
- What advice do you have for students and their first co-op search?
Start applying very early and apply often. Put effort into your applications, do your research on the company. Tailor each application to the role you are applying for. Ask for help, from your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor, professors, classmates, coworkers; expose yourself to as much opportunity as you can. Don’t let rejections discourage you, keep searching and you’ll find your opportunity.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Tim! Be on the lookout for our next co-op feature. If you would like to share your co-op experience with us (positive or not-as-expected), or have any questions about the co-op process, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, to make an appointment with your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office.