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Five perspectives, one purpose: what students have to say about CIRA’s co-op program

By Maddy Richards
Communications Coordinator

Time flies when you’re working hard and having fun! As the summer begins to come to an end, so does the work term for CIRA’s 11 summer co-op students.

Selected for the Career Directory as one of Canada’s best employers for recent graduates (2022), CIRA proudly welcomes interns year-round from various academic fields and institutions looking to gain professional experience before they graduate. ‘Intern,’ these students bring to us their fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that we feel are integral to helping our organization flourish.

If you’re passionate about Canada’s internet and looking to get a boots on the ground perspective of what it’s like to work at CIRA, then this is the blog for you. Here is what five of our summer 2022 students had to say about their time at CIRA helping to build a trusted INTERNet for Canadians.



Monika Sofrenovic, Marketing Coordinator in .CA Product Marketing – Monika is a student at Carleton University, studying commerce with a concentration in marketing.

What motivated you to work at CIRA for your co-op placement?

Monika: The culture here is unbeatable. It’s a very inviting, open environment that encourages you to be comfortable interacting with people and taking risks. And that’s really valuable when you’re starting out. When you’re beginning your career, I feel like you need more support socially than other workers who are more experienced. This is my third co-op placement at CIRA. Having the opportunity to work in such a fun, supportive environment where you feel like you align with their values is why I chose to work here in the first place and the main reason why I wanted to return term after term.



Jacqueline Hiltz, Grants Program Specialist in CI, Policy and Advocacy, Grants, Program Specialist in CI, Policy and Advocacy – Jacqueline is a student at uOttawa studying sociology.

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on this summer?

Jacqueline: The most interesting project I’ve worked on this summer is the grants program selection process. Every year CIRA invests about $1.25 million in funding to community-led internet projects across Canada. Being able to go through the process, seeing how it unfolds and how the panel makes their decisions—and having a hand in working with our grant recipients to get them their funding—has been really interesting to me!

Earlier in August we had our onboarding with this year’s selected recipients. I was able to meet them face-to-face, albeit virtually, which was really cool! It was incredibly rewarding and humbling to get the chance to work directly with the awesome organizations and communities we serve.



Florian Koudjonou, Software Developer in Global DNS Analytics in CyberDNS Engineering – Florian is a student at uOttawa studying software engineering.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Florian: When you’re programming, there are so many different tools and ways of accomplishing your tasks. You have to use so many new languages that you may not have used before. I’d say that these different ways of doing things were my biggest challenge. Every company has distinct ways of coding and pushing it to production. Getting used to the specific processes and procedures used at CIRA for software development was a learning curve at the start but one that I’m grateful for as it’s taught me new skills and made me a better problem solver.



Omkar Bavikar, Graphic Designer in Brand – Omkar is a student at Algonquin College studying human-centred design.

What have you learned from working at CIRA?

Omkar: My manager Holleh was so helpful in showing me what I would learn apart from what I already knew. I’ve had opportunities to learn layouts, typography and user interface design. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to create content that’s aesthetically pleasing while staying true to CIRA’s visual identity.

While I’ve learned skills specific to my role as a graphic designer, working at CIRA has also taught me a lot about the organization and its operations. Designing content for multiple teams has taught me about all the different projects we have going on. Overall, I feel I’ve gained a greater understanding of the internet and what it means to build a trusted one for Canadians.



Sebastien Leduc, Traceroute Database Analyst in CTO & Labs – Sebastian is a student at uOttawa studying computer science.

What advice would you give a new co-op student starting their placement at CIRA?

Sebastien: I would say be yourself and try your hardest. You’re expected to produce quality work, but you are not expected to know everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something and you’ll do great. As well, remember that your experience is what you make of it. Get out of your comfort zone and take risks—leverage this unique opportunity to learn and grow. Participate in office team building and social events and try to make as many connections as you can with the people here—they all want to see you succeed!

Final thoughts—a bonus sixth perspective from me

As a co-op student working on the brand team, I have to say that my time at CIRA has been amazing! This was my first placement with an in-person component which taught me a lot about what it’s like to work in an office setting. I’d like to give a huge thanks to my manager, colleagues and fellow students (those featured and not featured in this blog piece) for making this term unforgettable! CIRA is all about building connections, and I’m so grateful for all the ones I’ve made during my time here.

To anyone considering a co-op placement at CIRA or working here in general, I would 100% recommend joining the company if you’re passionate and purpose driven. We have ongoing recruitment, so check out our careers page and apply today!

About the author
Maddy Richards

Maddy Richards is a summer 2022 co-op student at CIRA working on the brand team as a communications coordinator. She is a student at uOttawa studying communication.