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Aug 10 2022

Shirley Gong: From Co-op Student to Head of Mobile Applications

by Chris Miljanovski

Blog banner image for Shirley Gong's employee spotlight

"For anyone new, I would suggest being prepared to expect the unexpected and opening yourself up to learning new things every day. Be well-versed in and ready to use the tools you learned in school in order to succeed, and know your programming fundamentals well. But most importantly, remember to have fun while you're doing it!"

Head of Mobile Applications Shirley Gong

When you’re a student, thinking about the future can be stressful. Not only do you have to worry about your studies, but you have to think about what comes next - your career journey.  

Luckily, some university programs have plans in place to help students become successful young professionals out in the workforce. Co-operative education programs combine school studies with an official paid work term. This can help students figure out their career paths faster and gain significant experience in the field.  

PDFTron offers an excellent co-op program for students, with growth opportunities being a key differentiator from other companies. Starting your career as a co-op student and ending up a full-time employee is commonplace. The possibilities at PDFTron are endless as we continue to grow.  

In the fourth installment in our series, we spotlight Shirley Gong, who started as a co-op student and loved her experience so much that she applied to a full-time role here at PDFTron, where she is now the head of mobile applications. She used her programming fundamentals and thirst for knowledge to get where she is today. Here’s what she had to say: 

What brought you to the company? 

I did a four-month co-op term at PDFTron as part of the UBC engineering program. At PDFTron, co-op students get to do actual development work that clients see. It was pretty challenging for me at first, but I learned so much over my term. At the end of my co-op term, I had learned so much invaluable information, and I loved the experience so much, that I decided to apply for a permanent position after completing my university studies. 

What advice would you give to a newbie? 

The learning curve I overcame went relatively smoothly because of my co-op experience here. For anyone new, I would suggest being prepared to expect the unexpected and opening yourself up to learning new things every day. Be well-versed in and ready to use the tools you learned in school in order to succeed, and know your programming fundamentals well. But most importantly, remember to have fun while you're doing it!

What’s the most exciting part of your job? 

Solving customers' pain points by creating and delivering a solution that will satisfy both them and their users is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. In addition, we also get to try out trending technologies for our own personal growth. 

What trait/skill do you think everyone should learn to succeed in a tech role? 

I believe an essential trait to have is curiosity! It’s a must-have for anyone in the tech industry. You also need to be motivated and driven. I’m always excited to learn new technologies/frameworks and apply them to my work when possible.  

What do you find are the most challenging aspects of being a woman in tech? What’s your number one piece of advice for women looking to start a career in tech? 

Due to the low female developer count, you might miss working with other female colleagues. Once you get used to that, the most important thing is to excel at your work. If you are motivated and driven, your confidence will build over time. Don’t let your gender label you, and don’t forget to have fun pursuing your goals! 

Learn more about our culture and community, and open opportunities on our

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CHRIS MILJANOVSKI

Content Strategist

Content marketer, social media enthusiast, and logophile.

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