Drexel University’s coveted Cooperative Education Program attracts many potential students each year. Attending a college where an internship is built directly into the curriculum for most majors not only enhances a student’s educational experience, it prepares him or her for life in the workforce.
The Steinbright Career Development Center helps students secure co-ops through the use of personal advisers who assist with job searches, resume critique and cover letter revisions. The SCDC also utilizes DrexelOne and SCDConline as a way for students to submit resumes to potential employers and schedule interviews. Using SCDConline, a student can receive information regarding job offers and rank the companies for which he or she wishes to work. The SCDC also offers Optimal Pairing, a computerized process that, according to the SCDC website, “matches students and employers with the lowest combined optimal pairing score, based on the rankings submitted by both the employer and the student.”
Despite these helpful accommodations, many students are unable to take full advantage of the SCDC’s resources when searching for and securing co-ops. Some students from the College of Media Arts and Design often find SCDConline as a tool they cannot properly utilize, as much of the outreach they do to companies in artistic fields is done independently. Many of these companies do not work through the SCDConline to schedule interviews and choose interns; instead, they often expect students to pursue the company personally.
Amy Yakuboff, an alumnus who graduated from Drexel’s College of Media Arts and Design with a music industry degree, recalled her experiences when searching for her co-op for the summers of 2005 and 2006. After realizing that the SCDC did not have the necessary tools to help her obtain an ideal internship, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Using only personal contacts and independent outreach to apply for internships and coordinate interviews, Yakuboff’s co-op search was completely self-reliant.
“The SCDC never actually seemed interested in helping out music industry students,” Yakuboff recollected. “They only seemed to have solid resources for business majors, engineering majors or computer science majors. In fact, I feel that CoMAD as a whole got pretty shafted when it came to decent co-op opportunities. We relied more on our teacher’s connections rather than the actual SCDC.” According to Yakuboff, the extent of the SCDC’s assistance was simply ensuring the legitimacy of the internship and making sure the necessary paperwork was filled out in order for her to receive school credit.
Though Yakuboff ultimately secured co-ops with Atlantic Records and Fuse TV, the SCDC’s lack of resources for music industry students made her feel as if her major was undervalued.
“If you’re going to have a top-notch university that prides itself on diversity,” Yakuboff said, “you need the resources to back up each major fairly.”
Despite the hardships of searching for a co-op without the SCDC’s help, reaching out to potential employers independently has its benefits. Students must have the confidence to reach out to friends, relatives, teachers and even guest speakers in order to find the necessary business contacts. Communication, writing and organization skills are required in the workforce, and independently searching for a co-op helps students practice these abilities.
The SCDC may not assist music industry and other CoMAD majors in the same capacity as the other programs at Drexel; however, they do offer some assistance. The SCDC’s Co-op Career Guides also offer some web resources for CoMAD students to aid in their co-op search. Additionally, SCDConline has a database of students’ past co-ops, regardless of whether or not they were independently sought after. An SCDC adviser may also be able to give students additional direction.
The co-op program undoubtedly gives students an advantage once they enter the workforce. Having the opportunity to intern as a student is not only a great resume builder, but also a way to learn about how the workplace operates. The best advice for current and future Drexel students who may be faced with an independent co-op search is to network as much as possible. Family, friends, professors and classmates may be the most useful tool when searching for an internship − and ultimately, a post-college job.
Monika Julien is junior majoring in music industry. She can be reached at [email protected].