Many Drexel students are confident to say that there was one program that drew them to the university — co-op. Yet over the past few months, the pandemic has caused a huge change in the normal programming. When classes moved online, many co-ops did the same, and now the hunt for remote jobs has become a struggle for many.
Drexel has done its best to provide resources during this unprecedented change. The career fairs that usually take place on campus every fall have even been moved online. The Drexel 2020 Virtual Career Fair was hosted throughout this week, with an email sent to students on Oct. 4 by Steinbright Career Development Center promising the fair would connect students with “industry leaders actively looking to fill full-time, part-time, and co-op positions.”
However, some students attending the fair, hosted on Drexel’s partner platform Handshake, were disappointed by technical issues. According to Abhigyan Khullar, a junior Electrical Engineering student at Drexel, the “session, from the beginning, never loaded.” He tried multiple times to refresh his screen to no avail. Khullar was frustrated by the “lack of preparedness” on Handshake’s behalf, but SCDC did try to make it up to students. Any student that had a one-on-one meeting scheduled with a company that Monday was copied on an email to the employers. The companies were asked to reschedule in order to give those students another chance to speak with them.
The schedule for the fair — which dedicated different days for STEM, Business, Liberal Arts and Education, Health and Human Services, and Media Arts and Design — seemed promising. However, some students looking to sign up for meetings were disappointed by the small number of companies on the list, especially within the humanities fields.
The Liberal Arts and Education section, in particular, was far more focused on the latter part of its title. For students interested in careers outside of teaching, the options were sparse or nonexistent. Many humanities students, who came to Drexel just as excited about the co-op program as anyone else, have been disappointed for years about the difference in opportunities through Drexel when compared to fields like STEM and business. Though those programs are bigger, many humanities students felt that they were not receiving the full experience promised through their tuitions.
That wide gap has only grown larger over the last few months, with the move to remote work exacerbating the problem. One third-year Drexel student, Nicole Clifford, voiced her thoughts on potential areas where Drexel could reach out for partnerships.
“As a history major, it’s difficult to find a co-op related to my interests without doing a self-directed search,” Clifford said. “There are lots of museums, archives and other historical organizations in the Philadelphia area, but unfortunately few of these organizations offer co-ops through Drexel.”
It is understandably easier to find jobs in some areas over others, but that is why it is so important for the Steinbright Career Development Center and other Drexel programs to help the students who really need it. More time and resources should be invested in finding better opportunities for students in those fields.
If students do feel that opportunities are lacking in their intended career, they should not hesitate to reach out to their Steinbright advisor. Despite the disappointing turn-out at the Virtual Career Fair, Steinbright career counselors have an abundance of resources they can send to you. They are also available for one-on-one virtual meetings and host workshops to help prepare for the upcoming co-op cycle. You can find more information on Career Services on the SCDC website.