An Essential Co-op Employee

When Mechanical Engineering student Sarah Clancy was hired for her first co-op with Safran Aerospace, she did not anticipate that she’d be labeled with essential employee status. In a role turned hybrid, Clancy works weekly two days remotely, and two days onsite.

“I’ve never had the same week twice because the tasks I get change so frequently. When I’m at home, I write reports and update spreadsheets. When I’m in the office, I’m comparing drawings, in the shop, or testing UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) launchers. It’s kind of a blend of office and testing tasks. I know people who have only had office jobs in a cubicle, and I know people who are only ever in the workshop. Getting to do both on my first co-op is the best thing I could have gotten out of this experience. I love it,” Clancy reflects, a smile prominent on her face.

Lucky enough to start in March despite uncertainty with COVID-19, she was onsite for testing before her work went entirely remote for a period of time. Now that they’re working in hybrid, she notes that all employees must wear masks the entire day. Upon entering the site, employees must fill out a form to disclose any symptoms and have their temperatures taken. Safran Aerospace is considered an essential business and has been able to adjust accordingly with zero cases reported from employees.

“UAV testing is my favorite part of the job—I’ve gotten to do it four or five times over the course of the last three months – and I love how hands-on and physical it is. Every time I’m there I feel like I’m learning so much from my co-workers, and even with strict safety measures in place, it’s still the most fun to do. I spent my last Tuesday just turning a wrench all day, and I was on cloud nine. I was having so much fun,” Clancy explains.

Testing consists of taking UAV launchers that come back from different countries where military is stationed, and using large chunks of metal to mimic a UAV. They test in a yard at the back of the company’s building, and Clancy makes sure the metal pieces don’t fly where they aren’t meant to. She often checks on tools and tightens screws, ensuring everything is perfectly secure and in place—so when it’s time for launch, it’s safe for everybody. She’s also stressed that she’s learned so much about speaking up.

“UAV testing is my favorite part of the job, and I love how hands-on and physical it is.”
Sarah Clancy

“It’s something I struggled with and am still working through. If I don’t know how to do something, I’m surrounded by people who have decades of experience, and while it’s intimidating to ask things like ‘hey, where’s this file?” or ‘hey, where’s this wrench?’ it’s important to remember that everyone struggles with imposter syndrome— and that’s fine. It’s a skill to learn how to ask questions, and I cannot stress the importance of that enough,” said Clancy. She notes that while everyone may seem like they know what they’re doing— this isn’t the case. Clancy stresses the notion that a co-op experience is equivalent to that of a full-time employee. It’s not just an internship. It’s a job, it’s actively working, and she adores the feeling of knowing she’s gaining knowledge in her field and learning what it’s like to be an actual employee in her favored industry.

The remote status of Clancy’s job has not dampened her enthusiasm for work. On the contrary, it has heightened her interest for working on defense contracts and jobs deemed as essential work, and is thus a stable industry to consider for her future—another insight gained from her co-op experience.