Page 10 - Best of Co-op 2019-2020
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 One of the reasons the program works so well is the strength of the professional team of co-op advisers behind the scenes. Drexel’s Steinbright Career Development Center is in charge of administering the program, assisting employers, and preparing students for the world of work.
Ian P. Sladen
Vice President
Cooperative Education & Career Development Steinbright Career Development Center Drexel University
“We’re not a placement agency,” says Senior Co-op Adviser Tracy Feld, a five-year veteran of Steinbright. “The co-op hiring process mirrors real life. Students have
to earn their co-op by showing up with their best materials, by attending interviews well-prepared and by being a compelling and competitive candidate in a competitive process.”
Each adviser also works with a portfolio of employers. “We want to make very, very sure that our partnership with an employer is a true partnership, that we understand their expectations and needs and that they really understand what a student deserves to get out of a co-op experience,” says Feld.
Specialists within Steinbright are also continuously cultivating prospective employer partners to develop new co-op positions in response to enrollment and industry trends. “The goal is not to have the largest network, but to have a network that can
best achieve great workplace experiences for students and employers alike,” says Ian Sladen, vice president of cooperative education and career development for the Steinbright Career Development Center.
“Our co-op employers are like our instructors out in the field...they are teaching a class but in the context of their own day-to-day mission,” says Assistant Professor Bill Mongan, a member of a faculty advisory group that reviews co-op data with Steinbright to improve the curriculum. “And the incentive for the employer is that they’re getting someone who is on the cutting edge of their field.”
Co-op and the Curriculum
Some of the most meaningful, forward-looking work done by Steinbright staff is to collect real-time feedback from students and employers. Feedback is used to improve the co-op experience, identify unmet technical skills and assess student proficiencies in areas that employers say are critical — such as problem solving, communication and teamwork.
Many curriculum changes have been implemented as a result. In a major overhaul, for instance, the Design & Merchandising program eliminated visual design and art history courses that students critiqued as being outdated. Professors now build Microsoft Excel skills and practical retail math (mark-up formulas and stock-to-sales ratios, for example) into merchandising courses. And environmental science replaced physics as the required science credit, in recognition of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. The Department of Communication revised the sequence of courses after students reported that they needed more foundational knowledge before they enter the workplace. And the College of Computing & Informatics was motivated to develop a new core course with experiential projects related to typical industrial applications, to show third-year students how their theoretical computing concepts operate in real-world scenarios.
The result is classrooms that incorporate the most relevant tools and knowledge, and students who are better prepared for work at the leading edge.
THE BEST OF CO-OP 2019-2020

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