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Tim Lethbridge's Co-Op Work at the Government of New Brunswick

While studying at the University of New Brunswick I worked in the Data Processing Division of the Government of New Brunswick.

My first experience there was as a co-op student in my second year at UNB. I learned the MAPPER fourth generation language and designed a system to calculate property taxes for the province. In my next work term I was the key developer of the province's system for recording births, deaths and marriages.

Normally, it is recommended that co-op students work for several different employers, however I wanted to stay in Fredericton so I could remain involved with extracurricular activities at the university. Hence I spent all my work-terms with the Government. Luckily, I worked on a series of different projects for different managers and gained a wide variety of experiences.

Towards the end of my time as an undergraduate, I developed a large management information system. I even worked part-time during my study terms and was given a supervisory role over some other co-op students. My final work term, which doubled as a fourth-year project was to develop a system to manage billing by radiologists. I finished this working as a consultant.

Why was I unusually productive at the Government of New Brunswick? I think it was largely due to the fact that I was one of the pioneering users of an productive, interactive software development environment. At the time most people were still using COBOL.

Unlike most of my contemporaries, I was placed into new development positions throughout my early years as a software engineer. Some people suppose that one should should start by doing maintenance. Although the argument for this is strong (let new people learn from the work of others), new development of small safe projects may work even better (you have the freedom to try out new ideas and you aren' miseducated and demoralized by other people's mistakes).

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