While the summer internship program just wrapped up at WP Engine’s headquarters in Austin, TX, our office in Limerick, Ireland recently concluded its CoOp program, in which students from the University of Limerick joined the company for an eight-month stretch. 

Cooperative Education (CoOp) provides university students with the chance to experience a real-world work environment for eight months before graduating. In doing so, students have the opportunity to grow and develop many essential skills relevant to the workplace, which would be more difficult to enhance at university alone. 

At WP Engine’s Limerick office, the most recent CoOp program began in January, with students placed in software engineering roles across a variety of scrum teams. When I began my CoOp placement, I didn’t know what to fully expect, although I knew it was going to be a drastic change from my day-to-day university routine. Once we got started, however, I quickly realised it was going to be a valuable and career-shaping experience. 

The author, University of Limerick student Neil Daly, in Boston, Mass. just before beginning the CoOp program back in Limerick.

From the beginning, expectations were set in stone. It was evident that CoOp students were going to be treated as full-fledged employees, with numerous responsibilities contributing to our respective scrum teams. These responsibilities led to numerous thought-provoking experiences, which prompted many opportunities for learning. In such a short time, I strongly believe that my communication, interpersonal, teamwork, professional, and technical skills developed substantially, and the overall experience has been pivotal in both my personal and professional growth. 

Putting learning into practice on a daily basis with an established scrum team has been exceedingly rewarding, and it’s certainly been an experience that would be unattainable at university.

WP Engine scrum team members from the U.S. and Ireland pose for a photo at the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, during their first team-building event together

Amidst being fully immersed in the work on the team, CoOp students were also asked to partake in the development of an exciting project of our choosing. The end goal of this project was to create something we could showcase at the Limerick for Engineering event in January 2020. It was a fantastic opportunity for the CoOp students to apply what we had learned working on our respective teams, to work together and create a project that would showcase STEM, and promote engineering as a choice of study.

As a team, we agreed to develop an autonomous car, which would implement machine learning to independently navigate around a track. Check out the video below for a peek at the final product:

The project was a superb and productive experience, not only for learning new technologies but also for developing interpersonal and communication skills in a professional environment, as our own team, following Agile practices.

Autonomous vehicle, built from scratch by CoOp students at WP Engine’s Limerick office, as part of a STEM demonstration in the upcoming Limerick for Engineering Showcase 2020

It’s safe to say that my CoOp placement at WP Engine provided me with many opportunities for learning, practicing, and developing many core skills, all of which will undoubtedly play a role in my final year at university—and in my future career. Obtaining insights into a real working environment has been a highly rewarding experience, and being exposed to many different and challenging situations also gave me a superb understanding of the real, working world. 

Team building event at the University of Limerick Activity Centre in Killaloe, Co. Clare

I’m sure no other environment could have provided me with the same opportunities WP Engine has, and I’m extremely grateful to have had this invaluable experience so early in my career.

Are you interested in CoOp or internship opportunities at WP Engine? Check out the WP Engine Careers Page for more information!