Co-op Stories: Shawn Shao

By: Shawn Shao

Shawn Shao recently graduated from Wentworth in August with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Business Management. Before leaving campus, he shared with CO-OPS + CAREERS about his two co-op experiences.

Shawn Shao sitting on bench

Shawn worked with Tesla, Inc. as an Information Technology Intern. In this role, he would troubleshoot and resolve various IT issues and assist with the day-to-day operations for Tesla’s global IT infrastructure.

After working with Tesla, Shawn joined PinOn, Inc. as a User Experience designer, Content Marketing Intern. In this role, he designed Smart Menu frameworks for a variety of restaurants and contributed as a start-up member for PinOn Web App.


How did you find your co-op at PinOn? Why were you interested in this co-op?

I found it on Glassdoor and I reached out to them by email. I’m interested in UI/UX design, visual graphics, and social media marketing so this role allowed me to explore my interests.

After my first co-op, I wanted to gain more knowledge on how a start-up company manages and their collaborative nature. I feel like this knowledges will be very helpful for me to start up my own company in the future.


What is a typical day like at your co-op?

At Tesla, I would start working at 8AM. Spend 5 minutes setting up my working environment and get ready to work. Every day, we worked on various issues that came through the online ticketing system. At noon I’d join the walk up desk and create tickets and help employees to solve their problem to better assist the daily operation.

At PinOn, since my job doesn’t require me physically be there, I had a much more flexible schedule to work on my projects. But if I was physically in the office, I’d usually start around 9AM to 10AM and leave the company when I finished the daily work.


While on co-op, what project(s) were you a part of, or something that you are working on, that inspired you? 

At Tesla, I participated in designing a more efficient system for inventory management in order to better support 7000 people working in the factory. It was a pretty successful redesign. Since then, all types of equipment have been accurately recorded when they were received, stored up and eventually assigned to a specific employee. This project made it possible for the Tesla Executive Board to analyze the cost of operation and eventually cut costs for company sustainability.

One thing we could improve on was setting up an equipment return system which could track types of equipment from employee returns such as laptops, monitors, and other reusable electronics. But in general, it was a great experience for me to participate in and lead a small project in a big corporation.

At PinOn, I collaborated with the front-end and back-end team to brainstorm the app design. We went out and observed how customers and businesses interact while ordering in the restaurant and incorporated those experiences into our design. Throughout this project, I noticed it’s not just about using what I learned from computer science, it’s more about thinking as the group of customers who will use our product and trying to make an app that is sustainable and user friendly.


What did you learn from your first co-op that prepared you for your second co-op?

Apply early.

A lot of big companies start their hiring process ahead of everyone else. So if you want to get in to those, definitely start as early as you can!

Build your network.

I gradually realized how important networking is in your career. Learning from people who are older than you can help you to avoid a lot of unnecessary “potholes” throughout your journey. Also, the more people you know, the easier for you to get referred to the company you want work at.

And take action!


What are resources students should take advantage of to be successful as UI/UX designer/co-op?

I learned a lot of from YouTube honestly. And also, Wentworth students are able to use for free to learn different skills. Building your own portfolio is important as well. A lot of companies would like to see that as a very important consideration.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Shawn! Be on the lookout for our next co-op feature. If you would like to share your co-op experience with us, or have any questions about the co-op process, please email us at

To make an appointment with your CO-OP + CAREER Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or visit our website for more information about scheduling virtually.

By Kristen Eckman
Kristen Eckman Operations Coordinator