Samtec’s multi-year co-op program is part of our commitment to education and investment in young talent. The program supports different disciplines. This month’s post focuses on the IT and Signal Integrity Group (SIG) engineering co-op programs, capturing thoughts on the advantages of a co-op program from the full-time employees who lead the programs as well as some of the co-op participants. (For more on how the Samtec co-op program is structured, see Real Job Skills from the Samtec Co-Op Program – The Samtec Blog.)
The IT Co-Op Program
Currently, the Samtec IT co-op program has 16 participants: 10 in New Albany, IN (Samtec headquarters) and 6 in Costa Rica. The IT co-op program features two distinct tracks: Infrastructure (with roles such as help desk, network, security, and I&O systems and services) and Development (which offers roles in software engineering, data engineering, data analysis, and project management). The IT students are given rotations based on their aspirations and Samtec’s organizational needs. Currently, 4 co-ops are in the Infrastructure lane and 12 are in the Development lane.
Within Samtec, the IT co-op program is unique in that it is the first to support co-ops from another country (the six students currently living in Costa Rica). Most of these students collaborate closely with the IT teams in New Albany. “While this has presented challenges, particularly in complying with Costa Rica’s regulations,” explains Samantha Deak, IT Project Manager and co-op program leader, Samtec New Albany, “it has also opened doors for partnerships with local universities, positioning us to tap into a reservoir of emerging talent.”
Samantha Deak explains why it is important for Samtec to have a co-op program in IT: “In IT, we face intense competition for top-tier roles, often struggling to secure senior-level talent promptly. This sometimes leaves open positions vacant for extended periods. While these students might not match the technical expertise of senior professionals, they don’t face the typical learning curve of newcomers who are not familiar with our systems, processes, and culture. This ensures that when a position arises, we have a ready pool of adept candidates, serving as a consistent talent pipeline for our program.”
The SIG Co-Op Program
Samtec believes in education plus real-world experience as a steppingstone for doing valuable work. “Our co-ops immediately start working on real-world projects, so by the time they may join our team full time they can manage several projects independently,” says Juan Aguirre SI Engineering Manager, Samtec, and leader of the SIG co-op program, “They also know how to navigate through our organization faster and understand our company’s culture.” Samtec currently has 8 SIG co-ops with more expected to join after the fall career fairs.
Signal integrity is at the forefront of high-speed communications technologies, and there are not many programs in the world with this emphasis (only a handful of university programs offer it). The Samtec SIG program allows co-ops to work alongside recognized, award-winning industry leaders in a field concentration that is very complex and small in size, giving them unprecedented industry experience.
Signal integrity is a very challenging complex field that encompasses Transmission Line Theory, the physics behind high-speed communications, 3D field tools, materials, and system-level design challenges, just to name a few. “Having this program early on in their careers, combined with rotations within our hubs, enables the skill development of a well-rounded SIG engineer,” notes Juan Aguirre. In addition, it “increases their productivity and collaboration skills, so if they join our team they hit the ground running, already leading their own high-level projects inside our company.”
The Co-Op Perspective
Michael Cieslak , a co-op in SIG, as well as Emily Wyland and Bryce Watson, both co-ops in IT reflected on their experiences so far at Samtec. Here they are in their own words…
Why did you choose Samtec?
Emily Wyland (EW): I chose Samtec because the current employees that I met spoke very highly of the company. After attending the Lunch & Learn at the UofL College of Business and hearing more about Samtec’s products and values, I knew an IT Co-Op position here would be a great fit for me.
Bryce Watson (BW): I heard about Samtec from a friend who was a co-op here. He said Samtec was the best place he has ever worked. The benefits were great, the people were awesome, but he really loved how everyone here is like a family. It drew me in, and I actually waited 8 months for a job position to open so I could apply!
What do you feel you are learning at Samtec?
Michael Cieslak (MC): At Samtec I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from leaders in the field of signal integrity and power integrity. Also, through the work that I have done I have been able to learn about how to use test instruments such as a VNA and TDR in addition to simulation tools such as HFSS, which I likely would not have been able to get much experience with otherwise. Through the projects I have taken on I have had the chance to learn about how to optimize a design and lead a project. Having to work the 20 hours each week has also meant that I had to get better with my time management skills to manage working and schoolwork.
EW: I feel like I have learned not only technical skills, but also interpersonal skills during my time at Samtec. On the more technical side, I have learned how to use new video editing software, how to leverage the entire suite of Microsoft tools, and how to employ various project management strategies. On top of this new knowledge, I feel like I have gained a new confidence in my communication skills and my teamwork abilities.
Have you learned/experienced something positive that you didn’t expect to?
MC: When I first joined Samtec I was surprised by the very positive work culture at Samtec and the willingness of everyone to share the knowledge that they have with others. Another thing that surprised me was the wide array of devices that Samtec’s products go into, I found it particularly surprising that Samtec’s products have found their way into things such as pacemakers and the life support system in a spacesuit.
BW: Something I experienced at Samtec that I’ve never experienced anywhere else I’ve worked is the amount of love coworkers have for each other. It’s like a giant family, and I didn’t know that was even possible to have at work.
What advice would you give incoming co-ops?
MC: My advice for any incoming co-ops is to be open to learning new things on the job and to not be afraid of asking questions or tackling new problems. So far, my experience at Samtec has been that when I had a question on how to do something or the theory behind something, everyone I have reached out to has been friendly and willing to help.
EW: Get involved! Don’t skip the events put on by the company. Some of my favorite memories are from our monthly co-op events and weekly trivia nights. These events are a great opportunity to get to know your co-workers and build lasting friendships.
BW: Come to work and be yourself. Socialize with people around you and make meaningful connections. Many of the people I work with now will be lifelong friends.
Becoming a Samtec Co-Op
The Samtec co-op program aims to provide real-world experience that works in conjunction with a co-op’s formal education, and it offers a transitional time for both co-ops and the Samtec team to see if there is a good long-term fit after graduation. Samtec will be attending upcoming Fall 2023 career fairs at numerous colleges, including University of Louisville, Purdue University, Arizona State, University of South Carolina, and Penn State (Erie and Harrisburg). Learn more about Samtec co-op career opportunities.