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Why Co-op?

Where did you co-op? It’s the question that unites our alumni. Few universities have made cooperative education as integral to teaching and learning as we have. In the typical five-year undergraduate degree program, a student spends 18 months working full-time with as many as three employers, gaining intense on-the-job experience as early as sophomore year.

Nearly as important is the question, why did you co-op? For most, it is a way to test-drive career choices while delivering genuine value for some of the world’s leading companies in technology, finance, engineering, and media. Nearly half of our graduates receive a job offer from a company where they went on co-op, according to surveys of exiting seniors. When hired, they are paid a starting salary that is 19.5 percent higher than the national average for a newly employed worker with a college degree.

For some, co-op means all of that and even more: It’s a chance to learn from a mentor, travel the world, or pursue a passion. Whatever the reason, our experiential approach to education nurtures driven graduates who are ready to make a real, dramatic impact in their field from day one.

LEADERSHIP

Nicole Kalitsi built her job from scratch as the very first coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Her co-op was among the first 30 financially supported by a $3 million endowment from the Lenfest Foundation to fund co-ops in nonprofit and cultural organizations that would otherwise be unable to afford it.

“Being able to now say that I have had this experience, that I can be a self-starter and it's proven — I can show you what I actually did — that's amazing. I don't think I would ever have gotten this experience anywhere else.”

Nicole Kalitsi ’20,
College of Arts and Sciences
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance

OWNERSHIP

While on co-op with Philadelphia-based startup Lia Diagnostics, Riley Stanford created a patent-pending film for the firm’s flushable pregnancy test, which is close to commercialization.

"This feels big. It's definitely a project I’m proud to be involved with. What they are doing is good for the environment and good for women, and both are things that I care passionately about. The Drexel co-op system ultimately gave me the chance to see everything through and effect change for the company."

Riley Stanford ’19,
College of Arts and Sciences
Lia Diagnostics

FOCUS

Billy McCullough completed an entrepreneurship co-op through the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, which provides up to $15,000 of capital and workspace in the Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship for Drexel students to make their business dreams a reality. The opportunity enabled McCullough to launch Puerh Panda, a lifestyle brand and online storefront selling small-batch tea and handmade tea accessories.

“When you already have a passionate idea for something, this is a great co-op. I'm a very passionate person, but my passion is easily pulled by other things. This helped me narrow down and learn to take it a step at a time, put out one type of tea and try to build an audience. That mentality was super helpful.”

Billy McCullough ’19,
College of Arts and Sciences
Puerh Panda

TRAVEL

Ryan Roe was in Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Winter Olympics. His co-op as a sports entertainment administrator for the broadcasting team in the curling arena was one of a number of co-op positions funded each year by the Freeman Foundation.

"Being in a foreign country on the other side of the world was incredibly exciting and also very humbling. I also gained a lot of great tips and experience from directors and producers who had been working in the field for decades. They gave me great advice for my future career in television."

Ryan Roe ’19,
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
2018 Winter Olympics

IMPACT

Ashleigh Jugan worked night and day for Save Vietnam’s Wildlife to protect a critically endangered species few have heard of: the Sunda pangolin. The pangolin is one of the most trafficked mammals in the world for its keratin scales and meat.

"I couldn't even describe a more ideal job for myself. Every day I felt like I was making a difference in the world, helping to ensure the Sunda pangolin did not go extinct. I've never worked so hard, or enjoyed a job as much as I did working there."

Ashleigh Jugan ’18,
College of Arts and Sciences
Save Vietnam’s Wildlife

PRESTIGE

Brian Lofink is one of Philadelphia’s most high-profile chefs, with a reputation built at Kraftwork, The Sidecar Bar & Grille, and now as executive chef at Terrain restaurant in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. He says it likely wouldn’t have happened without the opportunity to co-op for acclaimed chef and five-star restaurateur Georges Perrier of Le Bec Fin fame.

"Without working in that specific co-op, I’m not sure I would have lasted this long in the restaurant industry. It was such an intense period — immersive learning — that it set up my whole career. It catapulted me ahead of my peers because, by the time I left, I was 24 years old and had worked in one of the best restaurants in the city with one of the best chefs in the world."

Brian Lofink ’03,
Food & Hospitality
Brasserie Perrier

ACCESS

Having co-op experience helped Adam Eichen get the attention of recruiters at Lockheed Martin, a company he had applied to without success several times before starting his graduate program at Drexel. Upon graduation, he was quickly hired at the company full-time.

“I definitely felt like I was taken more seriously as a Drexel co-op. The name holds weight. … So, I advertise Drexel left and right. I basically tell people if you want a job, go to Drexel.”

Adam Eichen ’19,
College of Biomedical Science and Health Systems
Lockheed Martin

MOTIVATION

Kieran Billmann was a college dropout when he decided the only way to get his dream career in the defense sector was to complete school. His co-op with Penn State Applied Research Labs set him on a path to his current career with the U.S. Navy at the Naval Air Warfare Center in New Jersey.

"The co-op program was amazing. You can tell they've been doing it for 100 years because it's very well orchestrated and very well done. Everyone was there to help you. Everyone gave me tidbits of information for how to do better interviewing. So, when it actually came time to get a real job, I felt pretty comfortable with interviews because I had already had so many."

Kieran Billmann ’11 and ’15,
College of Engineering
Penn State Applied Research Labs

DIRECTION

Towfique Raj’s co-op introduced him to the emerging field of genetics. He went on co-op in a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) lab doing cutting-edge genetic research on brain disorders and after graduation was awarded the prestigious Gates-Cambridge Scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He now runs his own genetics lab at Mount Sinai in New York.

"Because of the co-op program, I was able to start doing research early on in my undergraduate career, when the genomics revolution was just beginning. That’s very unique. My co-op at CHOP gave me an opportunity to interact full-time with undergraduate and PhD students, fellows and medical PhDs, and I had excellent mentors. Just being around them was amazing.”

Towfique Raj ’05,
College of Computing & Informatics
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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