Meet Maddie Gabriel:
Maddie Gabriel majored in Software Engineering at the University of Guelph and minored in Math, having just graduated in April 2021. Maddie has worked various co-op work terms throughout her degree including roles in software developing at Sun Life, Sheridan, Tulip Retail, and Bank of Canada. Through these roles, she was able to gain a range of skills from app development to designing tutorials, and backend software development. In 2018, Maddie co-founded Guelph Women in Computer Science (GWiCS), a student-run club built to create a community for women studying computing at U of G, and to support the recruitment, inclusion, and retention of Women in Tech, including running outreach and mentorship programs for young women in STEM. Maddie was also a Peer Helper at the Library, and participated in various Hackathons throughout her degree. Maddie shares with us her experiences in co-op, favourite memories, advice, and more on the experiential learning activities she participated in at University of Guelph.
Tell us about your various roles in your Co-op work terms! What were you responsible for?
“At Sun Life, I was a Software Application Developer. I worked on a team to build voice apps for Google Home and Amazon Alexa. This first co-op was a great introduction to working as a developer in the real world.”
“During my time as a Java Learning Assistant at Sheridan, I supported students in college computer science courses like Object Oriented Programming. I designed and delivered tutorials and met one-on-one with students to help debug their code. This job fed my love for teaching; I found it really rewarding to see my students succeed!”
“As a Software Developer at Tulip Retail, I implemented features in the Tulip app related to ordering, payment and refunds. I got to learn some new and interesting technologies on the job during this work term.”
“At the Bank of Canada, I was a Backend Software Developer. I worked with a team of developers to implement and maintain an internal application which facilitates financial transactions between the Government of Canada and major Canadian banks. I found this work challenged me and I also experienced working in a fully remote environment.”
What did you learn in these experiences?
“Each of my co-op work terms let me build current, industry-level skills in software development. There are plenty of relevant tools, technologies, and soft skills you might not necessarily be able to learn through your classes.”
“The co-op program overall helped me narrow down my interests by trying out different company sizes and cultures, working on various types of projects in unique roles, and being exposed to tons of new tools/technologies. Having all these experiences under my belt informed my post-graduation job-hunt and allowed me to find something I really love.”
What has been your most valuable takeaway from working in this hands-on setting?
“I think the most valuable thing I've taken away from co-op is the belief that I can succeed in the career I've chosen. Getting hands-on experience as a developer while being a student was a huge confidence booster which allowed me to push myself further, both inside and outside the classroom.”
Do you have a favourite Co-op memory?
“One my favourite parts of the co-op program is getting to meet co-op students from other schools while on work terms. From company scavenger hunts to costume contests, I have really fond memories of getting to know my co-workers!”
What made you decide to enroll in Co-op?
“I decided to enroll in co-op during my first year at Guelph. I was hearing great stories about other students' co-op experiences, and also about how amazing the School of Computer Science Co-op Advisors are (it's true!). I hoped that co-op would give me some real-world experience working as a software developer, so I could be more qualified when I graduate with a better idea of what I would like to do in my career.”
Tell us about Guelph Women in Computer Science (GWiCS) and what you do. Why and how did you co-found GWiCS? What was that experience like?
“GWiCS is a student-run club I co-founded in 2018. We seek to build a community for women studying computing at Guelph and support the recruitment, inclusion, and retention of this typically underrepresented group in tech. We run social, educational, and networking events each semester - like our annual Women in Dev panel, where we host developers from local tech companies. I love the group at GWiCS and have been introduced to some incredible students through this club. I think one of the most important things we do at GWiCS is our mentorship and outreach work for young women in STEM. Club members help run events like Go CODE Girl, workshops for the Guelph Girl Guides, volunteer at high school recruitment events, and more. I hope that by providing this representation in tech spaces we can help encourage young women to see STEM as an option.”
What's the biggest thing you learned during your time as a Peer Helper at the Library?
“Being a Peer Helper was the most rewarding experience of my degree. I learned the value of working on a team of like-minded people to achieve a meaningful goal. The mentorship and friendships I gained through this program will stay with me forever.”
Share with us a bit about your experience with other experiential learning like the Hackathon! What were they like?
“Hackathons are short (typically 48-hour) programming competitions where the goal is to build a project to address a real-world problem as a team. I find these events are fun ways to mess around with code, learn something cool, and meet new friends/mentors in the field. My favourite hackathon I attended was Hack Harvard in 2018. After a very long bus ride, I teamed up with some fellow co-op students to build an app called Comical which allows users to illustrate a comic strip using nothing but their voice. We ended up demoing our app to the whole hackathon and winning top 3 overall hacks! This was an awesome weekend and is a fun memory to look back on.”
What's your advice to current U of G students?
“Always say yes! Every experience teaches you something - especially the challenging ones.”