Have you had a co-op? Are you currently working one or going through the application process? Drexel’s co-op program is one of the university’s main attractions, known for the advantages it offers to undergraduate students. However, after speaking with students around campus during the recent co-op cycle process for spring/summer 2024, many students expressed their concerns regarding the program.
A second-year psychology student currently working at her first co-op claims, “Drexel advertises that we could make $20,000 a co-op but as a psych major most of our options are either unpaid or offering a sum of money that is nowhere near what I expected.”
Currently working 20 hours a week as an unpaid intern, she had to make the tough decision between experience and financial stability. The lack of paid positions, such as research positions, put students in difficult situations. Overlooking their financial situation is a privilege not every student has. Many students may give up an unpaid prestigious offer and accept a paid job because they cannot take the risk of being unemployed for an extended period of time.
Drexel should consider requiring their co-op employers to provide students with a stipend. The university needs to recognize that it is not feasible for the majority of students to receive no financial compensation whilst working for six months.
Additionally, juggling multiple interviews during finals week is no easy feat. Especially for first-timers, the mixture of nerves and stress that come with preparing for interviews requires careful time management. Rushing from class to quickly change into proper business casual attire for your Zoom interview can leave you feeling both physically and mentally drained.
Despite the mandatory COOP 101 class students are required to take, many feel underprepared, learning to navigate the process as they go.
A third-year data science student shared her journey as she applied to co-ops for the first time.
“I encountered many frustrations during the process, one of them being that you hear different types of information from different people. For example, when creating resumes COOP 101 has a different opinion on what should be on our resume compared to our co-op advisors. Then when you ask a student who has received a co-op already, they also have a difference of opinion on what should be included on our resumes. This makes the process pretty confusing as you don’t know what to include/not to include on your resume which also adds stress to whether you put the right things on it or not.”
The student continued to express how she felt while balancing studying for her finals and getting last-minute projects/essays in on time at the same as giving interviews.
“All of this adds a bit of pressure as you don’t know what to expect since there are so many different viewpoints on various parts of applying to co-ops.”
Having recently undergone my first co-op cycle, my biggest advice to you all is to remain organized and strategically space out your interviews to avoid burnout.
Congratulations to those who have already accepted an offer this co-op season and to those going into Round B, I wish you luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.