At a time when many college graduates are having a difficult time finding jobs, several LeBow College graduates are crediting The Drexel Co-op with helping them land full-time jobs that they love before even walking across the stage to collect their degrees at LeBow’s 2012 commencement ceremony.
The Federal Reserve
Anna Petrone, an economics and math double major and physics minor, just landed herself a position in the Federal Reserve’s two-year research assistant program within its Macroeconomic and Quantitative Studies section. She credits The Drexel Co-op with providing her with the experience necessary to land this position. “They were looking for someone with programming and analytical skills,” she says. “My first co-op was at a start-up energy supplier called Energy Plus. That experience made me realize how necessary programming skills are… it got me thinking about data and query language.”
Petrone’s second and third co-ops were both in the Informatics Department of Independence Blue Cross. Informatics handles most of the business critical data, from claims processing to risk analysis. “This is where I learned SQL, SAS, and became familiar with a few other programming languages.” Through her physics minor and math major, she also learned C++, python and Matlab. “It was certainly this collection of languages that made my resume stand out at the Fed. They were looking for someone with programming and analytical skills.”
Petrone began her studies at Drexel as a physics and math major, but decided to switch to economics because she was attracted to its practicality. “I was drawn to econ for its relevance and because every day, new problems arise that constantly challenge and develop the theory itself. You just don’t have that in the more formal science fields,” she says. “As a math major, I view economics as a highly applied area of study, which is why I like it so much.”
She will be working in a department that is part of the Economics and Research division of the Fed’s Board of Governors. It develops and maintains the quantitative models of the economy, which are used by other sections of the Board. “While I’m there I’ll take advantage of the educational grant provided to all Fed employees and will pursue a master’s degree in statistics,” Petrone says. She will start in her new position at the end of July.
Karim Laib’s co-op with BlackRock led him to a permanent position with the company. He will be working as an equity research analyst for the company’s Global Opportunities Team, which manages over $15 billion in equity assets.
Laib is a BSBA finance and international business major with a double major in economics. He completed his first co-op with Susquehanna International Group and was hired by BlackRock for his second co-op. Laib says he was fortunate enough to be included in a lot of projects outside of the daily operational tasks assigned to him, “so the group got to see a more analytical and inquisitive side of me.” He must have impressed them, because they asked him not only to come back for his third co-op, but to continue working there on a part-time basis between the two.
In his position, Laib will be performing fundamental research on stocks and different industries, mainly assisting senior analysts with their research. “This relates pretty well to what I did as a co-op, with the exception that I will be doing more fundamental research and working more with senior analysts with their industry research. As a co-op, I had the opportunity to do some similar work, but I also had many operational tasks that needed to be completed. As a full-time analyst, I’ll be able to do more of what I enjoy, which is the research side.”
At the end of his last co-op in April of 2011, they told him they were interested in hiring him full time after graduation, and they formally extended him an offer in February. “I believe I got an offer based on my successes during my 18 months of working there full time and part time. I think they valued my hard work and my passion for this industry.”
Laib, who was a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, says many of his friends from other colleges are having a very tough time getting jobs because they lack experience. “Although many people are applying for entry-level jobs, with unemployment so high today, recent graduates are competing with more experienced professionals for the same jobs. I absolutely 100 percent believe that my co-ops gave me an edge in the job market. I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to interview at the places I did without my two-plus years of experience through co-op and the part-time work that my co-op led me to.”
Laib offers advice for undergraduate students with co-ops ahead of them. He says that what makes you stand out is not doing a great job on the tasks assigned, because most people can master their daily tasks very quickly. “What makes someone stand out is going above and beyond your normal routine. Do not hesitate to ask your supervisors for higher-level projects, and also make sure to ask your coworkers questions. This will help you stand out and show your employer that you are truly interested in the job and that you are more than just a ‘machine’ used to crank out reports. Don’t waste your time at co-op, be engaged!”
Breaking Glass Pictures
Justin Giani, a finance and marketing major, landed a job with Breaking Glass Pictures, a small but growing film distribution company that was created in September 2009 and has since reached over 100 titles. It offers TV/broadcast, DVD, VOD, and international rights for its films. “I will be starting after graduation as an assistant accountant, and by September I am set to take over the department,” says Giani, who completed his co-ops with the company. He was also invited to work there part-time during quarters between co-ops.
Giani had the rare opportunity to attend the Cannes Film Festival to assist with acquisition of new titles as part of his co-op with Breaking Glass. “Every morning a colleague and I would receive a list of movies to screen. After screening we would write a quick synopsis, and gather contact information and general terms,” and report that information back to the CEO.
He also assisted with pitching the company’s films to international buyers at the festival. “Overall it was a great experience as I was able to make business contacts from around the world and experience a facet of the company that I had no prior dealings with. For nightlife we would go to an occasional premiere and after-party, and at one of them I actually met John C. Reilly.”
Co-op not only led him to a job, says Giani, but it also “gave me a sense of direction as to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do in the future. Not only does it help guide you to a field of interest, but it provides you with that well-rounded resume that recruiters are looking for.”