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What my co-op Experience Has Brought Me

Choosing my final co-op felt like an ultimatum. It's my last chance .......

Jocelyn Zhu

3rd year at Northeastern University

Industrial Engineering, Minor in Mathematics

Cost Engineer Co-op for Peppa Pig and My Little Pony

Choosing my final co-op felt like an ultimatum. It's my last chance to figure out what I want to do with my life before I graduate, right? My last chance to mess around and explore before committing to the scary future of a life-long career. Of course, this isn't true. I've had many people tell me that careers are fluid, and that life is not a linear pathway to the 'perfect career.' There's plenty of time for me to explore and learn. Still, choosing where I wanted to spend my final co-op felt like a major decision.

In the end, I chose to be a cost engineer at Hasbro for three major reasons. One, I was interested in exploring the world of product design and manufacturing. Two, I was inspired by Hasbro's mission for environmental sustainability and was impressed by their clear commitment to 100% plastic-free packaging by 2022. Three, I wanted to work in an environment with creative individuals.

In my first few months at Hasbro, I've been able to fulfill those goals beyond my expectations.

My main responsibility as a cost engineer involves looking at design specs and quantifying those specs into a cost estimate. I've learned about how plastic and electronic products are molded, assembled, painted, and packaged, and I get to apply that knowledge to help bring product designs to life. As part of the EPIC (Engineering Project Innovation Challenge) program, I've been able to work on a team of co-ops to propose product design ideas to Hasbro employees. Right now, we're working on our final pitch which will ultimately be presented at the end of our co-op to Hasbro leadership, with the goal of our idea being introduced to Hasbro's product line. In the process, I've been able to learn from Hasbro experts in product design and marketing, who met with my team to help us ideate and provide feedback. I got to work with team members to develop mood boards, research competitive insights, and participate in group brainstorms. I'm particularly looking forward to further developing our final idea and fleshing out the mechanisms and costing for our product.

As a cost engineer, my day-to-day work is influenced by Hasbro's plastic-free packaging initiative. The removal of plastic from packaging introduces a myriad of interesting costing challenges, especially when plastic has traditionally been so closely integrated with the consumer product industry. Always supportive, my manager also introduced me to several projects involving Hasbro's sustainability initiatives. I've been able to work on projects to answer questions like, what would the cost impact be of changing an entire line of products into using entirely recycled plastic? How can Hasbro work around the current limitations of recycled plastic materials to make products more 'green' without diminishing the product design vision? Creating a future of sustainable products comes with more challenges than I expected; planning how products would be manufactured with sustainable materials sometimes feels like putting puzzle pieces together when the puzzle isn't entirely complete. But, it has been incredibly fulfilling to contribute to Hasbro's ambitious vision of a sustainable toy industry.

Remote work is hard, especially when you feel like you're missing out on the vibrant work culture that Hasbro is known for. When my manager took me and my fellow co-op and friend to tour the Hasbro office in Rhode Island (pictured above), I felt a good amount of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) hearing about how Hasbro has its own employee-organized band that performs in the office, an art gallery filled with employee's creative works, and just a general work culture centered around using the games and toys that employees are developing. As an engineer who likes to dabble in art, music, and photography, the Hasbro office seemed like a haven for creative minds. However, I found that I've still been able to participate in that creative culture while working remotely at Hasbro. In my day-to-day, I regularly interact with designers and get to help bring their designs to life. I bonded with engineers who also were drawn to Hasbro for its creative environment. One time after work, I participated in a Hasbro-led figure drawing session with a live model over Zoom. I also played in a DnD session with coworkers (including Hasbro leadership :ooo) that I had never met before. I'm also hoping to attend a 'How to DM' session through Hasbro so I can DM a DnD one-shot with some other co-ops in the future.

My time at Hasbro so far has flown by. I feel like I've learned and done so much, but the end of my co-op is coming too soon. Still, I'm looking forward to what more I can experience and accomplish in the next few months. As Peppa Pig once said, "In the world, there are two kinds of balloons. Up balloons and down balloons." I'm not sure what this quote actually means, but if my time at Hasbro was a balloon, it would be an up balloon.

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