Ask any teacher the best way to teach a student how to do something, and they’ll say “Just have them do it!” There’s only so much you can learn about art by looking at paintings, or writing by reading great books, or architecture by poring over blueprints. Eventually, you’re going to need to draw a picture, or write a short story, or design a building, or you’ll be stuck in theory for the rest of your life.
At Drexel University, they take that message to heart. Every year, more than 4200 Drexel students participate in their Cooperative Education program, where students find, apply for and work at real jobs for three to six months during a particular semester. Drexel offers the choice of a five-year degree with three co-op experiences or a four-year degree with one co-op experience. Students taking part in the co-op engage in their own job search, learning key skills such as resume building and interview strategies. The jobs themselves are in major-specific fields, which means that students coming out of the co-op program are more marketable, having had more field-specific experience and boasting excellent references and recommendations.
The program, run by the Steinbright Career Development Center, stresses that a co-op experience is not an internship. Internships are generally shorter, unpaid and not academically required: sort of an interesting and useful diversion from your actual collegiate studies. Co-ops, on the other hand, are always paid, and a core part of Drexel’s academic vision. Drexel shows a refreshingly realistic take on the current job market and have posted an FAQ about how to find work in these difficult economic times.
Colleen McLaughlin, a Film/Video Production Major, will be in the co-op program from September of 2012 until March of 2013. She sees her experience with the co-op program as “just as much a learning experience as the classes we’ll take while we’re at Drexel. Co-Op isn’t your run-of-the-mill internship- it’s so much more than that. And it’s not just encouraged by my university, it’s integrated into it. The knowledge and understanding of my field that I’ll get while on Co-Op is invaluable.”
To learn more about Drexel’s Cooperative Education program, visit their website.
You can contact Wesley Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.