Working at Ontario Institute for Cancer Research was really a rewarding experience. I really enjoyed working there, and appreciate that the team provided a platform for learning valuable and high quality technologies and experiences. I received an outstanding evaluation, which I am really thankful.

My manager wrote this on my coop evaluation:

Steven worked on more than 150 tasks during his term. Steven is an executor, technology traveller, and problem solver. Steven worked on 8 different projects, his ability to prioritize tasks and communicate solutions are excellent, and his attitude towards learning, helping, contributing, was always positive. Steven has a strong ability for learning technology, he recognizes the details and explores options. The team is very effective with his services, and Steven is very dependable. Steven made things happen with more ease.

Steven's behavioural and developmental performance expectations for his term - winner of the CLIC day, developer of a prototype for batch automation services, quality control for initiative against multiple site releases, co-leader of co-op orientation training for a 3 day operation for 2 students, and 1 contractor. His persentation for communication tips was classified as "cool and resourceful".

Here is a wordle that summarizes what I did.


As it can be seen, I did more testing than developing. That was because I didn’t have that much time to, for example, learn (from scratch) BackboneJS good enough to keep up with the work in an effective way. However, I did learn a lot by reading massive amount of code. When I did testing, not only did I finish my tasks quickly, but also I looked at the SVN logs to see what was changed and how that bug was solved. When I don’t understand what was happening, I usually asked the developers “What does that mean, why did you change it to that?”. Eventually, I was able to try a fix on my local copy, and if it worked, left a comment on JIRA saying, “This problem is because …, and doing … can fix it”. I found that reading other’s code is really a nice way to learn technology.

I also had opportunity to work on a number of side projects that are very interesting and challenging at times. I:

  • developed an screenshot automation tool which receives tasks from MySQL database and process it with Jenkins
  • developed prototype websites from a given mockup picture
  • helped migrate from svn to git, using a self-hosting GitLab server
  • investigated Vagrant and the cool things it can do
  • investigated OwnCloud which allows sharing data between team members in nearly unlimited disk space
  • extended the OAuth clients which are used to test against our internal and JIRA REST APIs
  • maintained drupal websites, including updating the Drupal core

My manager invited me to attend the Toronto Full Stack developer conference! And it was such a treat for me. I got exposed to so many exciting demos on cutting-edge tools that I currently don’t understand (lol). This motivates my interest in becoming a front-end developer a lot.

My manager gave me opportunity to attend major meetings where managers, stakeholders and people with even higher positions discussed features and future directions of our products. Sometimes I was the “driver” of the meeting, who helped presenting the products live to the stakeholders. In addition to taking notes, my focus was on observing and learning how my manager behaved under such occasion. Specifically, I noticed that his presentation slides were styled in a very clean and clear way with professional font and animation choices; his wordings were always precise and formal while not losing any humour; when there were unexpected errors during the presentation, he acted calmly, carefully documented the problems, explained what he thought was happened, made a promise to his audiences and moved on. I would imagine being panic, awkward and embarrassed if I were him.

To conclude, I really appreciate working at OICR and am really thankful for everything that I have experienced. Right now, I would love to keep my career path as a web developer, preferably a front-end developer who actually does coding more.