London Calling ... Co-ops

  • By Lisa Litzinger-Drayton

When Robert Reid saw a posting for an all-expenses-paid co-op with SEI in London, he knew he had to apply even though he didn’t think his chances were very good. “I thought they’d pick a senior. I was just a sophomore applying for my first co-op.”

But unlike most sophomores, Reid had professional experiences dating back to high school through a program that provided business education experiences for students at his school. Reid, a Drexel University Liberty Scholar who grew up in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia, began working part-time at GlaxoSmithKline when he was only 16.

Last summer, he learned that he landed the position and would be leaving in mere weeks for his first-ever trip abroad. Upon arrival in London, he moved into the full-service flat SEI provided for him – just a block north of Hyde Park, and a 10-minute commute to the company’s office on Bond Street via the Tube.

While at SEI’s London office, he provided support to the UK private banking management team, in addition to completing a supplemental rotation program within the technology operations, asset and investment management units.

Reid says he had some opportunities to take initiative, and adds that sometimes when things go a little bit unexpectedly, you can use that opportunity to make an impact.

For example, his director left SEI to go to HSBC not long after he arrived – which meant Reid began reporting to the office’s commercial director, which is similar to a VP of finance in the U.S. He also had a dotted line to the UK managing director who oversaw marketing and PR. This meant he got a lot of exposure to a lot of things.

“Getting to do my first co-op working with SEI’s management team in London has been an incredibly impactful experience for me,” he says. “I’ve learned so much already from my co-op, and continue to gain new insights everyday, because of everything I had exposure to.”

He says that as a student on co-op abroad, it can be a bit challenging to go out and make friends: “I had to get creative.” For example, he met a couple of people while attending an event at a local college.

One great thing about co-oping in the UK is that even as an intern you have a holiday entitlement. So he took several long weekends abroad – in Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Brussels and Brouge.

His end goal at graduation is to land an associate management consulting position, perhaps one that requires tech skills within finance. In the nearer future, he’d like to land a management consulting co-op.

“I’m so appreciative of SEI’s investment in me,” Reid says. “I hope that more employers have a similar foresight in seeing the value of creating these international opportunities for Drexel students.”

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