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James Donnelly profile

How Co-op Led This New Alumnus to Discover His Passion


June 11, 2018

When James Donnelly was searching for colleges in high school, he says he only knew one thing about Drexel: It was where you went if you wanted a job right out of college. Donnelly’s cousins had attended Drexel and hearing their experiences as students drove Donnelly to apply.

After doing some research on Drexel’s history and seeing that engineering was a popular major, Donnelly wanted to find a way to combine his love of math and business with what he saw as the most popular major at the school. He decided to pursue a business and engineering major as a way to combine the best that the two disciplines had to offer. “The business and engineering program at Drexel has allowed me to develop my analytical skills and helped me to focus on visualizing of data in ways I wouldn’t have discovered on my own,” he says.

Donnelly credits his business and engineering studies with providing him the critical thinking and analytical skills that have helped him succeed at co-op placements at PECO and Comcast. “When I started my first job at PECO I really enjoyed working with customer data to develop account histories and getting involved with the legal department,” he says. Donnelly says he enjoyed being able to use his legal studies minor and the Excel skills he used in class to work on a variety of projects that helped him develop relationships within the company that would lead to his second co-op and a growing professional network.

Donnelly’s second co-op at PECO allowed him to work on a green initiative where PECO provided zero-carbon energy to the Democratic National Convention. In that position, Donnelly worked on mapping signal strength and range from PECO’s electric meters during the convention, and even had the opportunity to study radiation levels for an upcoming legal case. His work as an analyst afforded him the opportunity to meet the CEO of PECO and representatives from Comcast who would hire him for his third co-op position where he would work in the tax department and make recommendations on tax law and strategy. “I couldn’t be an analyst if I hadn’t worked my co-op jobs and figured out what I wanted to do,” says Donnelly.

With a new understanding of his interests and a plethora of experiences under his belt, Donnelly was able to land a coveted position at the Federal Reserve Bank in their Fellows Leadership Development Program. The three-year program will allow him to work in several different departments in the company and develop management skills before graduation. But Donnelly says he couldn’t have gotten into the program without the experiential learning that co-op made possible. “Drexel afforded me the opportunities that led me where I am today.”

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