Tag Archives: co-op

Car Ownership

Big Muscles, Little CarI’m really happy that I live in a city where it’s possible to get around without a car. Public transit is decent (at least in downtown – trying to get to Ikea in Richmond last weekend was a nightmare. Richmond is such a hole, but I digress), biking is possible year round and there are lots of bike lanes and trails around the city, and the downtown is dense enough that I can walk to almost everything I need on a regular basis.

That being said, there are times when having a car comes in handy. I’ve been keeping an eye on Craigslist lately, looking for a good used kitchen table and maybe a futon. But what would I do if I found one? I might try, but I don’t think I could use my bike to move it.

So, I bought a car. Well, not exactly. In reality, I bought part ownership in 140+ cars, trucks, and vans. I am now one of 2500 members in Vancouver’s car co-op. I have access to 7 hybrids, 3 mini-coopers, 5 VW Beatles, 27 minivans, and 10 trucks scattered throughout the Lower Mainland. That includes 12 cars within a few blocks walk of my house and one in my building’s parking lot. I couldn’t find any Smart cars in the fleet. Maybe they’ll add some soon.

I’m really excited about this. They have a slick web interface for booking cars. I already reserved the car in my parking lot of next Saturday to chauffeur my parents around when they’re here, and a Toyota Prius for Sunday to drive them back to the airport. I still plan on biking everywhere, but now I have the flexibility of having access to a vehicle when I need it.

SunsetPink Sky at NightI strongly recommend everyone look into this. Although car sharing is bigger in Europe, there are car sharing programs across North America – in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, Seattle, and New York.

Job Decisions

Sorry to keep everyone in suspense.

So, after much soul searching and advice from friends and family, I decided to accept the Morgan Stanley job. It was a really tough decision and I hated rejecting ZymeWorks again for a second time. But a chance to work in London doesn’t come along every day and I needed to jump on the opportunity. On one hand, I can’t believe I’ll be living in London in 11 weeks and I can’t wait to explore the city and countryside. On the other hand, I know I’m giving up a good opportunity in Vancouver, especially since I know I’d have lots of fun with Erin. But no regrets. London here I come. Yeah Baby, Yeah!

I think I’m going to have to watch Austin Powers before I go so I know what to expect culture-wise.

It’s going to be so awesome. Double decker buses, castles, British accents. So exciting.

My parents have already booked a flight down to visit me on November 11. They’re only coming for 4 days + travel time. Kind of a waste, but I guess they can’t take lots of holidays. If anyone else wants to jump on a plane and fly across the pond to come visit me, I’d be more then happy to house you and show you around. I’m not sure what kind of place I’ll have (maybe a flat), but if you’re willing to take the couch or the floor…

Offer Overload

Well co-op job rankings came out this morning. I had applied to 9 companies, interviewed with all 9, and received 8 job offers this morning. The co-op system is treating me well.

So here’s a quick summary:

Company Position Location
Telus Software Developer Vancouver
Bridgewater Systems Software Designer Ottawa
Net Integrations Technologies Human Cannonball Montreal
IBM Software Developer – Eclipse Winnipeg
University of Waterloo 2nd Year CS Tutor Waterloo
UW – Environmental Science Agent-Based Simulation Programmer Waterloo
Zymeworks Computer Simulation Programmer Vancouver
Morgan Stanley Programmer Analyst London, England

The only company I didn’t get an offer from was RIM (I don’t think they like me much after I told off an interviewer and left the interview early – but that’s another story). My strategy for co-op this time was to be picky and look for interesting jobs in interesting places. I tried to avoid jobs in Waterloo, Toronto, and Winnipeg, but I still applied to a few.

My bid dilemma right now is whether to work at Zymeworks or Morgan Stanley. I’ve been agonizing over the decision all day and getting feedback from friends and family. Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of each job:

The Drama Begins

Well I wasn’t going to start my journal until I started my trip to the States, but I had an amusing incident today. But to fully appreciate it I’m going to have to start my story on December 9 when I had a meeting at school for all students heading to the United States for work terms.

During the meeting the co-op guy started talking about crossing the border and the forms we needed to have if we wanted to avoid a full-body search. Anyway, I hadn’t received any of those forms from Microsoft yet, so I asked indiglo_i (who is also working at Microsoft in January) if he had received his visa forms yet. Sure enough he received his two weeks prior. Agitated, I sent an email to my contact at Microsoft who put my in contact with a lady in the legal department. Anyway, I got everything straightened out and the forms were sent to me by FedEx.

*fast forward 10 days later – today*
Well the FedEx package finally arrived today. I opened it up to see how many forms I had to fill out and to check if any of them required me to promptly send some forms back. Anyway, I started reading the cover letter and it kept referring to the American Consulate in Mexico City. Confused, I flipped through the other papers and noticed they were all filled out for a Microsoft Intern from Mexico City named Fernando. I can only assume Fernando is one confused hombre in Mexico right now trying to figure out why all his forms refer to Christopher of Winnipeg, Canada. I wonder if he knows where Winnipeg is?

So, now I have to make a trip down to FedEx to overnight the package back to Microsoft (my legal contact was very sorry about the mistake). Hopefully I get my real forms soon. I’m not worried yet, as I don’t leave for a few weeks. But I would like to get everything settled. I still don’t have a plane ticket booked. I’ve found a two bedroom condo to share with indiglo_i, but we still haven’t got a finalized contract back from the owner yet. So there are still a few things left to fix up before I leave.

Back to the visa mix up. I’m kind of happy to find out that there will be Mexican interns working at Microsoft. I’ve been told there won’t be many (if any) Americans because their college system is such that most interns work in the summer, so I thought it would be all Canadians. From what I was told most MS interns will be from Canada – UBC, Simon Fraser, Waterloo, and Sherbrooke I think. I’ll have to make a point of meeting Fernando when I start work. I wonder what department he’ll be in. Maybe this will be the odd beginning of a new friendship.