Let’s face it, co-op is the reason we are all here.
You can’t beat job experience where you can learn hands-on secrets from people who have been in the industry for 10 years. We students at Drexel University naturally have a leg up on all the other college students because self-directed internships cannot even come close to the connections that Drexel students spend years accumulating.
But socially, co-op can have an adverse effect on us and our relationships.
Some students elect to stay on campus, but for others it is not a choice. Their co-ops are only offered in select areas throughout the country or perhaps outside of it. Students must pack up, secure their own housing, and leave behind their life and all their friends for six months.
This separation happens at one of the most difficult points in life. Students are just starting to branch out and find out who they really are outside of their parents and family. There is so much freedom and discovery that must be cut off. Sure, we are getting vital experience in how to be an adult, but we are skipping the crucial transition period.
For those lucky enough to get a co-op on campus, there is the constant dilemma of feeling like other people are at a different point in their lives. No homework means that you are constantly free after work even if no one else is. Instead of being able to commiserate during finals week, you feel like an outsider looking in.
The quarter system just serves to exacerbate the situation. Constant class followed by constant work. Many do not even get a break in between as some co-ops begin the Monday after finals week ends. If you are unlucky enough to be fall/winter, you miss an entire month of winter break because you have to work. I know that Drexel students are happy to be making money to offset some of the costs of education here, but it drives home the point that you aren’t a kid anymore.
The co-op process can be extremely stressful and time-consuming as well. We have to arrange transportation to various areas and arrive in a timely manner for interviews all while still attending class. There is no set time that Drexel sets aside for people to go to these interviews, so students are left to desperately try to find times that work. The constant barrage of midterms makes this demanding task that much harder.
Furthermore, getting the living situation covered is almost impossible with all the ambiguity that comes from co-op. You could be two hours away from campus or right on it and you won’t know early enough to sign a lease unless you are lucky enough to get a decent offer in A Round.
At the end of the day, though, co-op is a great opportunity for a lot of things. Drexel could smooth the process over a little bit, but I suppose that they expect the rough and tumble process to build character and force us to become adults.
We want to grow up, too — I just wish it didn’t have to happen all at once. It feels like we are leaving something behind that we can never get back.