Alumni Answer the Call for Co-op

Posted in Fall 2020, Cross Roads, Class Notes, Alumni News

This summer, an incredible 750+ alumni volunteered to conduct nearly 3,000 informational interviews with students whose co-ops were canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus.

Danielle Brief at her studio.

The University’s co-op program is the cornerstone of a Drexel education, but the ability of students to participate in co-ops and cultivate professional connections was greatly impacted by the pandemic.

As a way to lessen this disruption, Erin Glaser, senior cooperative education advisor for educational enrichment, and her colleagues in the Steinbright Career Development Center created the course “Advance Your Career: Log In and Level Up” for students who experienced a co-op interruption.

“In developing the course, I thought about the major benefits of co- op,” says Glaser. “And one is the students’ ability to network and build professional relationships.”

To replace that important opportunity for professional exposure, Glaser asked students within the course to participate in informational interviews with an alumnus in a relevant field. For the assignment, students selected, contacted and interviewed alumni in a position or industry of interest to them. They were encouraged to ask alumni about industry trends, professional insights, career advice, resources for development and current projects.

Glaser connected with the Office of Alumni Relations and, within just a couple of months, turned her idea for these interviews into a successful reality. Glaser put out a request for alumni to volunteer to be interviewed by students and got an overwhelmingly positive response from more than 750 volunteers.

“A secure database was created to safely store alumni volunteer information,” says Glaser. “And students could then filter by criteria such as major, job title and industry to select who they wanted to interview.”

For his interview, current senior Daryl Nelson selected Danielle Brief, a 2014 design and merchandising graduate and an associate buyer for the discount toys retailer Five Below.

“Danielle explained so much about her background and how I could one day reach her same level,” says Nelson. “My biggest take-away from the interview was that anything is possible. People tend to limit themselves because of pressure to succeed, but Danielle talked about trying out different jobs to find out what you truly love and being your authentic self.”

According to Brief, her conversation with Nelson went so well that she forwarded his résumé onto her colleague, a buying recruiter at Five Below.

“When I was interviewed by Daryl, as well as a second student, I was so impressed by their professionalism and enthusiasm,” says Brief. “I know times are difficult and uncertain, but Drexel is doing something right in fostering these organic connections between current students and alumni. I’m so glad that these conversations are happening now, given the total shakeup of the traditional corporate retail world.”

Pandemic lockdowns impacted about a quarter to a third of Drexel co-ops, but you can help.

HIRE A CO-OP
Now more than ever, we are looking to our alumni community to provide co-op opportunities to students on
a full-time or part-time basis. If you are interested, contact our Employer Relations team at drexel.edu/scdc/employers/contact.

MAKE A GIFT TO THE CO-OP OPPORTUNITY FUND
Donations of every amount have an impact on the Drexel Co-op program and our students. Support the fund at giving.drexel.edu/campaign/priorities/co-op.

HOST A WORKSHOP
The Steinbright Career Development Center is always looking for alumni to host professional development workshops for our students. To learn more, contact scdcworkshops@drexel.edu.

Erin Glaser

Daryl Nelson

“LOG IN AND LEVEL UP” will seek another crop of alumni volunteers for informational interviews when the course reconvenes. If connecting with current students and giving back to Drexel in this way is something you’d like to learn more about, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@drexel.edu.