The two Drexel University student winners of this year’s Steinbright Co-op Photo Contest didn’t think too much of it when they entered back in winter term. But now, they’re $300 richer, have a ton of bragging rights and know that the photos from their co-op experiences will help illustrate the program and inspire fellow students for years to come.
Every year, the Steinbright Career Development Center hosts the contest, with students on co-op over the last year submitting photos in both the @work and @play categories. After a panel of University judges select finalists and a public vote occurs, the winners are announced each spring term and celebrated at the annual Cooperative Education Awards. The winners receive a $300 Amazon gift card for first place, a $150 Amazon gift card for second place and a $50 Amazon gift card for third place.
Out of over 100 photo submissions this year, Johnny Zhu and Michelle Kim came out victorious. Find out more about their winning photos and co-op experiences below, as well as the runner-up submissions:
“Go Metro to the LA Opera” — Michelle Kim
First Place: @Work Category
Kim, a fourth-year graphic design student, was on co-op last fall/winter cycle as a designer in the marketing and communications department with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) when the winning photo above was taken. Though she did not take it herself (Kim is in the photo to the left of the dressed-up figure, smiling), Kim edited the photo for a campaign her department did with the LA Opera in an effort to help them reach a younger audience. She said taking and editing photos was one of her favorite parts of the job.
“I learned a lot about design and how design is integrated into marketing and into the real world,” Kim said of the co-op experience. “Working on this co-op helped me understand all the processes of being a designer, working with clients and enhancing my creative skills in general.”
She decided to enter the photo in this year’s Co-op Photo Contest for fun (as well as a photo in the @play category which won second place), but didn’t know she was a finalist until friends told her, and learned of her first-place win from a co-worker. She’s glad the competition exists to highlight the co-op program, which she considers a core part of the Drexel experience.
“It gives you more perspective on the types of jobs and variety of coops you can have as a Drexel student,” she said of the contest.
“Data Center Chic” — Antigone Bellanich (Information Systems)
Second place: @Work Category
“CH-47 Demo Incentive Flight “ — Taylor Thoman (Business & Engineering)
Third place: @Work Category
“Standing on the Shoulders of Innovators” — Johnny Zhu
First Place: @Play Category
“It’s like the Statue of Liberty in New York for Singapore,” said Zhu, a fourth-year studying international business and marketing, of the solar-powered “supertrees” on display in the country’s Gardens by the Bay. Posing with this tourist attraction earned Zhu first place in the @Play category, but his experience co-oping abroad was worth much more than the accolade.
“It was probably one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” Zhu said of his co-op with an agency called Strategic Public Relations Group which took place last spring/summer cycle. “I was in an environment where I was living and working away from home and developing that worldly perspective. …It’s a country where a lot of global affairs occur and it’s very culturally diverse.”
Zhu said he wanted to enter this year’s Co-op Photo Contest to showcase that co-op can be much more than just work. He also wanted to inspire more students to co-op or study abroad.
“A lot of students do fear the factor of going abroad,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to show off my work, my experience and inspire other students.”
Zhu said the best part of his co-op was being able to network and make friends, and he believes these contacts will be beneficial in his future career. Especially as an international business major, Zhu said the opportunities co-op affords have allowed him to fulfill so many desires and passions during his time at Drexel.
“You get to really experience your work environment and your major as well as what you’re trying to pursue in your future first-hand,” he said. “Just being in the classroom itself isn’t going to give you that full on exposure of what you’re going to do in the workforce.”
“What's up, Half Dome?” — Michelle Kim (Graphic Design)
Second Place: @Play Category
“No Danger” - Gracie Sobalvarro (Sociology)
Third Place: @Play Category