From co-op to full-time: my story

by Manjot Sandhu  |  February 7, 2020

Prior to working at Manulife in a full-time capacity, I was a co-op student. My Manulife work term ended up being last term prior to graduation, and in retrospect, it was the most impactful to my overall career.

My four month co-op work term at Manulife was a major learning experience. I’ll be honest, going into my work term I wasn’t sure whether software engineering was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I enjoyed technology, but everything I had been taught about it so far was not rooted in the practical every day work I would be doing as an actual software engineer. This is one of the reasons why co-op work terms are so valuable: they can give us a proper window into what the industry is actually like on a day-to-day basis.

Manjot (4th from the left) with some of his fellow full-time employees.

Manjot (4th from the left) with some of his fellow full-time employees.

Manulife decided to take a chance and hire me, and I decided to take a chance and see if software engineering was the right career path for me. The next four months were a deep dive into automation, quality assurance, automated testing and the technology that drives much of these activities within the organization. I was fortunate to have both a supportive manager and a strong team that helped me to learn and work on some interesting and challenging projects. Thanks to their help and support; at the end of those four months I was able to deliver on some impactful projects.

The often-overlooked value of co-op work terms are the connections that they allow us to create with experienced engineers who can mentor us both technically and professionally. Throughout my career these individuals have been the patient guiding voice that has helped me to overcome many technical and professional hurdles. Fortunately, at Manulife there is no shortage of these sorts of individuals. Working with them was the positive experience that I needed, and it pushed me to pursue a career at Manulife post-graduation.

Manjot and his team at one of the many Manulife hackathons

Manjot and his team at one of the many Manulife hackathons!

In hindsight, working at Manulife for those four months gave me more industry applicable knowledge than I would have picked up while I was in school. Don’t get me wrong, the education I received was incredibly valuable in providing the base of technical knowledge that helped me to further learn and understand the day to day of our field. However, in my opinion, there is nothing more valuable than real world, hands on experience, and the connections that come with that experience.

I’ve attempted to carry forward this same attitude/approach into my full-time career as well. My favorite part of working at Manulife is group problem solving and the learning that occurs in that space. I’m glad that this organization took a chance on me and that I gave them a chance as well. The learning never stops, and every day at Manulife brings new challenges and exciting opportunities.


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