Computer Science Co-op - A Dream Comes True for Doug Falk

by Maureen Paisley
posted 8 June 2009

For Computer Science graduate, Doug Falk, working as a programmer for the Mayo Clinic is a dream come true.

Growing up in Carmen MB, Doug wasn't sure whether he wanted to become a physical education teacher like his father, or work as a programmer, like his brother.  After visits with his brother, a programmer for the Mayo Clinic, Doug decided in high school, not only that he wanted to be a programmer, but that he, too, wanted to work at the Mayo Clinic.

His journey took him to the Computer Science Co-op Program at the University of Manitoba, and he credits his solid education and his Co-op experience in helping him achieve his goal.

"With each Co-op work term," says Doug, "I became more satisfied with my life choice."

In his first Co-op work term, he learned what it was like working in a business environment, how a company functions and how to form working relationships with the different people at the company. 

For his second Co-op work term, Doug was employed by a small software development company that was "very well run."  The whole company model was different and focused on ways to enhance employee interaction.  It didn't take long for Doug to see the results. 

"I was comfortable around the people who I worked with," he explains.  "I was given opportunities to have input in decisions, and was given more responsibility.  I still keep in touch with the friends I made in the company."

Doug believes having a year of Co-op work experience was vital to him getting his job.  "I had better examples of real-life work experiences to share, and I had confidence in my interviews." He explains.

During his Co-op experience, he had over 30 job interviews; interviews where he had a chance to practice his skills and gain confidence.  He also benefitted from the feedback employers gave him - a built-in component of the Co-op program.

"I took their advice to heart, and I made the effort to make the changes they suggested.  It's not an easy thing to do, but in the end, it makes a difference," says Doug.

Still, getting a job at the Mayo Clinic wasn't easy.  "I checked the on-line jobs every day, and I sent in applications," he said.

Finally, he got a telephone interview, and although he didn't get the job, the manager who interviewed him recommended him to a colleague at the Clinic. 

He was also encouraged by the Human Resources Manager who noticed that Doug had been applying for computer-related jobs.  She gave him a call, and encouraged him to keep trying.  "It really gave me hope that a job at the Clinic might be a possibility," he explains.

The telephone interview that finally landed him the job was with the five-member panel.  It was "intense," and there were a lot of questions, but Doug felt good about interview.  One week later he received a job offer, and he was both elated and scared.  It had finally happened; he was moving to Rochester!

"The Mayo Clinic is an amazing place, and it's the kind of work where you can help patients and have a positive impact on patients' lives," says Doug.

For more information about the Computer Science Co-op program, contact Gerri Acorn, Computer Science Co-op Coordinator, Faculty of Science, University of Manitoba at (204) 474-8695.