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Student Finds Passion Through ARAMARK Co-op Experience

October 10, 2013

Lauren Sheppard

Four years ago, Lauren Sheppard was a student with a passion for learning but an uncertainty of the future. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but the Gloucester County native knew she wanted to go south. Or so she thought.

“In high school, I didn’t really apply to any schools above the Mason-Dixon Line,” Sheppard joked.

But this city girl only lasted a semester at Clemson University in South Carolina before she landed back in Philadelphia, and at Drexel.

“I came to an open house for transfer students and saw the co-op program,” Sheppard said. “I thought this could be a great opportunity.”

She ended up nabbing the Dean’s Scholarship, which solidified her decision. And that’s one decision she can look back on with pride.

Now in her senior year, the 22-year-old College of Arts and Sciences communications student is working part-time at Philadelphia’s ARAMARK, a worldwide food-service, facilities management and uniform company that caters primarily to universities, school districts, arenas, businesses and health-care institutions. Sheppard just completed a six-month co-op with the company, where she worked with the business-to-business marketing team. She assisted in the development of case studies, ran a weekly newsletter for the company and even got to help represent ARAMARK at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) conference in Indianapolis.

“The conference was a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” said Sheppard, who worked there for five days. “At that point I said, ‘I can see myself doing this when I graduate.’”

Between classes, Sheppard’s now helping run the eighth Presidential Perspectives program for ARAMARK, where 10 presidents of chosen universities write a chapter on a certain theme. This year’s series: “Elevating Sustainability Through Academic Leadership.” The chapters are made into a book, which is also digitized for the Web.

Sheppard is grateful that her time with ARAMARK didn’t end with her co-op.

“I stay up at night thinking about what I’m going to do at work tomorrow,” she said. “I get excited about the projects I’m working on. I’ve never seen my work ethic like this, which is awesome. I never was like this before.”

Her kind coworkers also keep her motivated every day, Sheppard said.

“Everybody that I’ve worked with at ARAMARK wants to see me do well, and they want to see me as an asset to the company,” she said. “And that’s exciting.”

That’s something unique to all of Drexel’s co-op connections, Sheppard added. “All these companies want to see you succeed,” she said.

Sheppard credits Drexel’s co-op program for affording her the opportunity to find what she really wants to do, even though it didn’t come easy. She admittedly switched her major a few times, and she went through two other co-ops before she found her passion with ARAMARK.

“It’s like trying it on before you buy it,” Sheppard said. “That’s exactly what this co-op experience is. You have time to figure out what you love and enjoy doing.”