After much anticipation, students preparing for fall-winter co-op were notified of the A-round interviews they were granted May 31 at midnight. For those awaiting their second or third co-op, the process has likely been business as usual. But it is a little more complicated for freshmen who aren’t from the Philadelphia area, whose summer plans may be put on hold thanks to the lengthy interview process.
The summer after freshman year is a Drexel student’s only extended break without the stresses of classes or a job. Upperclassmen remember it fondly, and first-year students eagerly anticipate it. But for five-year freshmen who have the misfortune of being assigned to the fall-winter co-op cycle, interviews can be more dreadful than exciting, especially if one is from out of town.
I was fortunate enough to receive over a dozen interview requests in the initial round of my first co-op cycle, so I didn’t mind spending an extra week after finals away from my California home in order to complete each interview at the variety of companies who wanted to meet me.
Still, when that fateful day came last July when I logged onto DrexelOne to find out what positions I had been offered, I was nervous. It wasn’t just about getting my ideal internship. I desperately wanted to get any decent job in A-round so I wouldn’t have to fly back to Philadelphia to repeat the interview process during my vacation.
The Steinbright Career Development Center’s interview search tool allows students to send resumes to employers offering internships relevant to one’s major. Once granted interviews, students are either asked to reach out to the company or to wait to be contacted to set up a meeting.
But the system neglects out-of-towners, and it doesn’t indicate whether employers also offer interviews via Skype or over the phone. While not ideal interview formats, these alternatives would provide options for students who want to spend their precious vacation time at home.
Upperclassmen are often also required to sacrifice precious time off to complete interviews. The weeklong break between spring and summer terms directly conflicts with on-campus interviews, forcing some upperclassmen to stay in Philadelphia when they could be relaxing after a busy term of exams, research papers and presentations.
There’s no reason that on-campus interviews couldn’t be moved to a week other than “summer break,” one of the few weeks during the year that upperclassmen are free from schoolwork or co-op. Even if it means making the deadline to submit resumes for job listings earlier in the year, I think all students would appreciate not having to interview during their time off, regardless of where they’re from.
Time and time again I’ll ask students why they decided on Drexel over other universities, and more often than not they’ll say that the co-op program had a lot to do with it. The opportunities that 18 months of work experience at impressive companies will provide us when we graduate are immeasurable. In a bleak job market, we’re grateful for any competitive advantage we can get.
But we also sacrifice a lot. Students in the five-year program dedicate themselves to a plan of study that requires them to be in school year-round for four straight years. We deserve the time off that the University allocates, but the current co-op system gets in our way more often than not.
Stan Wright is a sophomore majoring in communications and the Editor-in-Chief of The Triangle. He can be reached at [email protected].