Financial Support from Drexel is Available for Unpaid Co-ops

Drexel undergraduate students can apply to receive up to $6,000 for a six-month co-op and up to $3,000 for a three-month co-op through the Steinbright Partners Program.
A person interviewing for a job shakes hands with an interviewer.

Cooperative education, or co-op, is a key component of the Drexel University experience for students looking to gain up to 18 months of hands-on work experience before graduation. But some co-ops are unpaid, which can create barriers preventing students from accessing enriching opportunities.

That’s why Drexel’s Steinbright Partners Program is an important resource for students to know about during the co-op application cycle. The program, administered by the Steinbright Career Development Center, provides crucial financial support for students who want to work in unpaid positions in the United States. Special funding is available for students intending to apply for an unpaid position with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Bartram's Garden or the Philadelphia Zoo. If accepted to the program, students can receive up to $6,000 for a six-month co-op and up to $3,000 for a three-month co-op.

“The goal of the Steinbright Partners Program is to give access to students who are interested in unpaid co-ops but would otherwise find it financially challenging,” said Jamie Siddiqui, senior cooperative education adviser in the Steinbright Career Development Center. “The program can impact the students’ long-term careers by giving them the opportunity to gain skills and experience in a position they wouldn't have been able to accept without the funding.”

The application cycle for the next round of spring/summer co-ops closes Nov. 6. Students can learn more about the program and apply for funding through Steinbright’s website and email with any questions.

For years, the program’s application cycle has operated in tandem with A Round of the co-op search for fall/winter, summer-only, and spring/summer co-ops. Students can apply to both at the same time; for the Steinbright Partners Program, they must submit a résumé, provide a reference and answer questions about what their goals are for co-op and how the funding is going to help them.

“I always encourage students to apply if there's any chance that they're going to be interested in unpaid co-ops, especially if the industries or positions that they're interested in tend to be unpaid,” said Siddiqui. “Students will have an answer on whether they're going to get the funding before they have to make a decision on which co-op they're going to take.” 

Most recently, the program supported 17 students on spring/summer co-op, 11 students for summer-only co-ops and eight students for fall/winter co-ops, awarding a total of $183,000 to those 36 students. Dragons supported by the program came from a wide variety of majors and disciplines, including chemistry, fashion design, entertainment and arts management, mechanical engineering, data science and more. During that time, they worked for local employers including the aforementioned Philadelphia Zoo as well as Thomas Jefferson University, University of Pennsylvania, WXPN Radio and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“We are continuously striving to make our process as fair and equitable as possible, and our committee has made a number of changes recently towards this goal,” said Siddiqui. “We created a rubric for the application review process to ensure consistency across reviewers, made changes to the application and reference questions to make them more transparent and clearer, and are using data continuing to evaluate the process for future changes.”