"I think I hold the record for having the most co-ops," laughed Brian Royds, director of governance for Global Pharmaceutical Supply Group (GPSG), a Johnson & Johnson company.
"When I was a student, I had two co-ops at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station, I did undergraduate research for a Drexel professor one year, I had a position with the Trane Corporation working as a manufacturing engineer, and I also worked at the Heintz Corporation as a materials testing assistant."
According to Brian, one of the most important things his co-ops did for him was that they exposed him to the types of careers he did not want to pursue after graduation. And while many may not see those as positive co-op experiences, Brian begs to differ.
"My co-ops were definitely positive because they helped me rule out a lot of career paths that weren't right for me. It's much better to discover that as a student - before you've graduated and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars learning how to do something that isn't the right fit for you."
Now, as an alumnus, Brian remains involved in Drexel's Co-op Program, however this time it's as the employer.
Years ago, Brian worked on a co-op task force with McNeil Consumer Products, which sent him to schools other than Drexel to recruit students for co-op positions with McNeil.
"I was recruiting from other schools and I realized that we had an opportunity to get great co-op candidates from Drexel."
It wasn't long before Brian became the lead person recruiting specifically from Drexel. And in his subsequent position with Centocor, Brian approached his manager about hiring Drexel co-op students as well.
"I simply contacted Drexel and they told me everything I had to do as far as submitting the right information to get the process started," Brian said. "That first year we hired two co-op students."
In addition, Brian visits Drexel to interview students who are candidates for the GOLD (Global Operations Leadership Development) Program in which new hires go through two years of rotational training at J&J.
"There is a two-round interview process, however if the student has already completed a co-op at J&J, they are able to bypass that first round of interviews with a supervisor recommendation," he said.
"I'm also working with the Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC) as a liaison between my company and Drexel to identify international co-op opportunities."
Brian learned that the SCDC was looking to grow Drexel's roster of international co-op positions, and that he helped to connect them to some of the J&J affiliates in Ireland about possible positions.
"As a result of this contact, a representative from [Steinbright] is currently in Ireland meeting with six different J&J companies – three of whom have already agreed to begin the process of creating co-op positions."
Brian points out that co-op is a valuable resource for employers who are looking to hire new talent into the company.
"Being able to evaluate the students during their six-month co-op is a great way to see what someone is really capable of," said Brian. "It's a lot harder for a potential new hire to deliver results for six months than it is to get through one interview."
It's also a cost-effective way to get work done. Brian explains that a co-op student won't cost the company as much as a full-time employee would, and the work can be just as competently done.
"At J&J, the students fill real positions in departments such as R&D, marketing, and engineering," he said. "These are full-time positions that just happen to rotate out every six months. Our department heads rely on the co-op students to complete the projects they are given; it's not just busy work."
Brian explains that while hiring co-op students has its practical reasons, emotionally, it is also deeply rewarding.
"Knowing that you're helping students get experience that can help set the direction for their career is very satisfying," he said. "What's even more satisfying is when you run into someone you placed in a co-op position 10 years ago, and they are now a successful full time employee making valuable contributions to the company."
Brian says that he learned early on that you can't succeed professionally unless you really enjoy what you're doing. Through his company's involvement in the Co-op Program, Brian is able to give many Drexel students an opportunity to discover just that - a career that they truly enjoy.
If you are interested in hiring a co-op student, or if you would like more information on how your company can get involved with Drexel's Co-op program, click here.