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Student Co-op Experiences

Chris Geraghty

Chris Geraghty HeadshotChris Geraghty is a second-year graduate candidate pursuing his Master of Science in Economics. After spending nearly a decade as a middle school teacher within the Catholic school network of Philadelphia’s urban neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs, Chris switched careers and is now an urban economist interested in economic development, workforce solutions, education, and immigration reform.

Tell us about the project you were involved in.
Chris: The Drexel Solutions Institute team I was involved with focused its efforts on two critical areas of need presented by local manufacturing companies, namely the chronic issue of negative perceptions of the industry and the acute challenges of the labor shortage. Specifically, the team researched and developed strategic approaches for industry marketing and recruitment. The consulting group worked to both identify sources of talent for member firms and creative strategies to engage these talent pools within the Southeastern Pennsylvania region. The team employed a balance of data analyses and market research to inform recommendations to an organization that represents more than 60 manufacturing companies.

What did you learn by working with external partners?
Chris: While many projects within the classroom space strive to obtain a pre-determined result, this project challenged me to work both individually and collaboratively in pursuit of answers to unsolved problems. As the quantitative lead, I enhanced my capacity for leveraging publicly available data sources, such as PolicyMap and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to support practical recommendations made to hiring managers and company stakeholders. I also generated a statistical analysis plan to synthesize insights gathered from a qualitative survey conducted on the Qualtrics and Amazon Mechanical Turk platforms. I used this well-rounded data collection to support the recommendations of my peers tasked with delivering recommendations for repositioning the industry and marketing job opportunities to available talent pools.

For you personally – what is the value of participating in projects that involve external partners?
Chris: In addition to an enriching experience with a business consulting course during summer term, this project confirmed my desire to engage in open-ended tasks with no set solutions. This project challenged me from start to finish; as a team, we completed a comprehensive literature review, supplemented with several interviews, to gain a deeper understanding of the common issues facing the member firms. During monthly meetings with the industry alliance’s leadership, we gained positive feedback as well as constructive criticism, which challenged us to be responsive and flexible to client needs and requests.

What was your favorite part about participating in this opportunity?
Chris: I really benefitted from the strides that I made in accessing and analyzing data in a real-world scenario. Working independently on the quantitative side, I developed my research skills and became more efficient in all stages of the process, from data collection and cleaning to analysis and the production of visualizations.

How has this project shaped your academic career beyond co-op?
Chris: I will be graduating at the conclusion of Spring term. Working as part of the DSI team made me feel confident as I was able to complete this co-op alongside my program of studies. I feel more sure of my interest in workforce solutions and economic development as I enter the field as a professional economist.