Austin Kelly (BMgt '16, BSc Co-op '21) graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Science majoring in computer science and three co-op work terms at Waterton Lakes National Park through Parks Canada. There he worked as a client support assistant, assisting with technical issues, file organization and cleanup. Austin lived in the park for all three of his work terms and enjoyed practicing his classroom skills in a professional environment. Austin is searching for a permanent position in his field, and looks to practice and grow his skill.

What is your most memorable uLethbridge experience?
I remember the feeling several times where I was doing programming assignments and projects for my courses and getting stuck trying to run them correctly. There was a moment of clarity where my mistakes seemed obvious and the feeling when the program finally started to do what I wanted was very uplifting, like I had taken another small step in the direction I want my life to go.

Tell us a bit about your co-op work terms.
In the summer of 2019 I worked May - August and in 2020 I worked from May - December staying until the beginning of Winter, and during both years I lived in the park during my work terms. My work terms took place in Waterton Lakes National Park through Parks Canada. I was a client support assistant, with my main responsibilities being to help people when they encountered technical issues such as a monitor not coming back on, a folder that they should have access to but don't for whatever reason, or they needed to do a specific thing in a program and not knowing how to proceed. I also helped with different projects throughout my work terms such as replacing and upgrading computers and helping to organize a file cleanup on Waterton's network drives. I spent a total of 12 months in work terms in Waterton.

What was the best thing about co-op?
The best thing about co-op was that I was always learning something new. Whether it was learning from my supervisor by showing me directly how to do a task or through researching online to fix a problem that I hadn't encountered before. I learned so much during my time in co-op that I probably wouldn't have had the chance to do just through my university courses. It is one thing to learn about topics in your field, it is another thing entirely to actually practice your field in the real world.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time in the Faculty of Arts & Science at uLethbridge?
The most important lesson that I learned is that if you are unsure about any topic you should ask someone. It does not help you to just hope that you will grasp something that does not make sense to you. People are at the University to help and if you let them know they will be glad to help you understand, whether it's through simply going over the topic again or by going through an example or two.

What are your hopes/plans for the future?
In the short-term I want to get into a permanent full-time job that involves technology either in IT, or coding, or perhaps something related to computer science that I haven't even thought of yet. Overall, I want to keep learning and practicing all my skills to become a better me and grow further in technology.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey at uLethbridge?
My advice is to try a little bit of everything, try a few courses that aren't directly related to your major, join a club or two and definitely see what is out there with the co-op program. You really never know what you might have been missing out on, and at the very least confirms that you are where you want to be and lets you practice and grow your skills.