As a fifth-year graduating senior, I’ve taken 230 credits worth of undergraduate and graduate academic courses, and spent 18 months on co-op perfecting my work ethic and skills. It’s clear that Drexel has given me the opportunity to soak up as much academic and work knowledge as possible. But looking back, I’ve found that they’ve taught me a few other useful life skills.
Don’t Burn Bridges (There Isn’t Always a Bungee Cord to Save You)
I’m slowly learning how truly small of a world this is, especially in Philadelphia. Keep your friends close; keep your professional network just as close. During my sophomore year, there was a student I chose not to be close with so I unfortunately “burned that bridge.” It turns out they were in the room during a co-op job interview I really wanted. From then on, I’ve made it a priority to not burn bridges because I never know when that person will turn up in my life again. Better yet, seek to build as many bridges as possible with as many people you meet as possible.
There’s Life Outside These Philadelphia Walls
I had never been outside of the country before I came to Drexel and my high school wasn’t exactly diverse. After stepping foot on Drexel’s campus I met people from all over the world and even had the opportunity to travel with some of them. Consequently, I saw Drexel students co-op abroad, study abroad, as well as do research abroad in places like China and South Korea. This global focus has inspired me to learn about more international cultures and travel to foreign places as much as possible as an adult.
Everything is Negotiable
The first thing a teacher does in class is hand out the syllabus. How many students negotiate assignments with professors to ensure that they are learning as much as possible to suit their needs? My guess is very few. I’ve been fortunate to have some outstanding professors who remind me that students are the customers of a university. As long as there is a common goal from both parties (for students to learn and succeed), the terms along the way are negotiable. Just like you might negotiate with professors, be sure to do so with coworkers, car salesman, homeowners, etc. Never settle for things at face value and if there’s any red tape involved, collaborate, compromise and communicate to jump over it.
Buy a Really Big Piggybank (or Learn to Budget)
The Drexel co-op is great for so many reasons, but it’s easy to pick out my favorite part—the paycheck I received every two weeks. When I was back in classes, I learned that the co-op savings ran out quickly since I had gotten used to a certain lifestyle. After the third go-round, I finally learned what it took to budget funds and still indulge in fun activities on the weekends. I’ve already started a budget sheet for my full time job, so thanks Drexel!
Say Yes as Often as Possible
Living in Philadelphia was one of the best parts about attending Drexel. The food, art and sports are just a few items that make up the wonderful (and hugely cultural) City of Brotherly Love. But, Drexel has its own slice of life right on campus. With more than 250 student organizations and hundreds of events happening per month, there was always something to say yes to, whether I was in class or on co-op. When I’m sitting in my cubicle from 8 to 5 pm every day, I now know how important it is to say yes to events or fun things that pop into my inbox.
Stephanie Takach graduates on Friday, June 15, 2012 with a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in public communication.