Pete Grice was positive of his path when he entered Drexel in 1965.
“I had started Drexel with the full intent of becoming an engineer and signed up with the electrical program,” Grice said.
But in the grand tradition of entering freshmen, it wasn’t long before Grice changed his mind. Being at Drexel, though, afforded Grice some real-world experience to help change his career path, thanks to a special experience on co-op.
Grice’s original desire to become an electrical engineer wasn’t made on a lark. He actually entered the program with a ton of previous knowledge.
“I had started studying the topic in eight grade,” Grice explained to DrexelNow. “My dad came home from work one day, he worked for the New York Telephone Company, and he had a program he was supposed to take on basic electricity and electronics, developed initially by the U.S. Navy and now given to New York Telephone employees for self-development.”
Grice got his hands on the book and by the time he was finished with his freshman year in high school, he’d digested all 10 volumes of the course.
After taking a college prep course at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park, New York, Grice graduated with both a regular academic diploma and a tech-electrical diploma as well.
His plan to become an electrical engineer was well on its way during his first co-op experience with a company called North Hill Electronics, where he constructed small electrical/electronic filters. But things took a turn when he was taken to a trade show hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) at the old New York Coliseum.
“I was so impressed with this trade show,” Grice said. “I walked around, picked up a lot of literature, came home with bags, reviewed all this and reviewed my focus. I said, ‘I don’t want to be an engineer. I want to be a sales engineer.’”
Grice went on to graduate from Drexel as an engineer in 1970 on the advice of his advisor who suggested completing a master’s degree for sales and marketing later.
The experience at the trade show, because of his co-op, set Grice’s four- decade-long career into motion.
“I have to say, it was the co-op that got me into it,” Grice said. “I’ve been doing it since I graduated. I’m still involved with the selling and marketing of different electrical products used in industrial, residential, commercial and utility applications.”
Without the chance to work in the field through his co-op in the late ’60s, Grice feels he would’ve gotten a later start at the successful career he enjoyed. In June, he’ll retire from Mulberry Metal Products Inc., in Union, New Jersey, after working for a variety of high-profile companies.
“I would say the co-op gives the student an opportunity to break the ice,” Grice said. “You want to be able to have a good feel for what your options are before you get to graduation.”
Key to Grice’s experience was being able to change direction. It’s something he feels all Drexel students embarking on a co-op should be ready for.
“I would say, ‘Be open-minded,’” Grice said. “Remember, co-op is there to help guide you along the path of not just what you’re doing in college but beyond college. Take the assignment as a learning experience even if you don’t like what you’re doing… The co-op is going to be the thing that helps you fine-tune your focus.”