The ProTrack Experience

By: Jacob Coughlin

My name is Jacob Coughlin, and this semester I am completing my third and final Co-op at NetBoss Technologies, Inc.  I began working for NetBoss at the start of the fall 2011 semester, and have since alternated between working and taking classes each semester—though I continued my job part time during the semesters I was in class.

The best part of this experience is the fact that I will still graduate on schedule, and with over a year of work experience.  This incredible opportunity was made possible for me through the new ProTrack co-op program, and the real world work experience I have obtained from it is an invaluable asset toward my career goals and a useful complement to the material that I am covering in class.

I initially discovered the ProTrack program when I was applying to colleges, and it was the deciding factor in my choice to come to Florida Tech.  When the time came, I signed up for ProTrack and was assigned to the very first co-op rotation in this new program.  At that point, I went to the career fair and independently submitted a number of job applications though I never heard back from any of the companies to which I applied.

Career Management Services also made connections with several companies, and ultimately got me the interview with NetBoss.  I walked out from my interview knowing it was the job I wanted.  I received my acceptance, and began my new job a week later.  My experience at NetBoss has been highly favorable ever since.

NetBoss is relatively small software company that provides a network management software application to its customers.  Consequently, my job revolves entirely around software.  Although such a job is usually suited to a software engineer, I consider this experience to be a valuable complement to my major in electrical engineering.  Though not directly related such experience with software development is useful and could open up numerous opportunities down the road.

As an additional benefit, these co-ops have shown me what work in the real world is like, and helped me to refine my career goals following my graduation.  I am sure now more than ever before that I made the right decision by majoring in electrical engineering.  Though I really like my job and I have no problem working with software, I would prefer to work with hardware after I graduate.  Still, I am keeping my options open.

Overall, ProTrack has been an incredible opportunity for me.  It has given me over a year of work experience to complement my college education, yet it has not delayed my graduation beyond the usual four years.  It has shown me what will be expected of me in the working world, and given me the skills and experience needed to meet these expectations.  I highly recommend this program as an excellent way to gain real world work experience prior to college graduation.

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