The value of a Co-op experience
Before I even began attending Saint Joseph’s University, I knew that I wanted to participate in the school’s Co-op Program. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a year’s worth of work experience while still graduating in four years. I realize now that joining this program is quite possibly the best decision I have made so far at St. Joe’s.
The Co-op Program rearranges your academic schedule so that you take classes in the summer and work in the spring or fall when you would normally have class. This way, you do two longer work terms as opposed to shorter internships in the summer.
Todd Krug, P.h.D, the director of the Co-op Program, makes it such an enjoyable experience. He helps you schedule your classes for the summer, and sets up a meeting with each individual Co-op student to help them review their resume before interviews begin.
Krug also informs you when companies are interviewing for Co-op positions, and you choose which companies with whom you’d like to interview. Most companies interview during the summer session, but one company held interviews much sooner—Johnson & Johnson. They were looking to hire finance and accounting majors, and seeing as I am a finance and accounting double major, it seemed like the perfect fit.
I had my interview with Johnson & Johnson in mid-March, and I found out about two weeks later that I got the job. It was very exciting and such a relief to know that I was hired before the summer semester even started. Any Co-op student will tell you it is not easy to take 15 credits in eight weeks as opposed to the normal 16-week semester.
But on the bright side, Krug and Anne Marziani, senior administrative assistant for the William F. Leahy Advising Center, make the summer semester much more enjoyable. They organize a snack room and provide weekly lunches, such as Qdoba catering—the crowd favorite. While the work was difficult, those eight weeks absolutely flew by. Before I knew it, I was getting ready to start my first work term at Johnson & Johnson.
In mid-June, I found out I was going to be placed at Johnson & Johnson’s corporate headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J. I felt that it would be a difficult commute to drive to northern Jersey each day from Philadelphia, so I decided to take advantage of the housing the company provides for Co-op workers. At the same time, I discovered I would be working in Global Financial Planning and Analysis—which I felt was very exciting, as opposed to working for an individual sector, such as North America Pharmaceuticals.
Upon starting my Co-op in mid-July, I noticed that I would be sitting in the same area as the other Co-ops students and interns, in an area the company refers to as the “bullpen”—a term that I find to be hilarious. Even though I had only just finished my freshman year of college, I still knew a lot of the terminology used by my older coworkers. The most difficult part was learning the full “language” of the company. There are so many acronyms, and I had many questions about how our financial reports work, but at this moment I am very comfortable with my role at the company.
In my position, I test financial reports for functionality before they become available to end users. My team has been extremely helpful with any questions that I have had about my objective. Johnson & Johnson also encourages interns and Co-op students to set up one-on-one meetings with other employees to ask them questions and receive advice. I really love the organizational culture at this company as I feel that they are truly trying to make a difference for the healthcare industry, their employees and the communities which they serve. Overall, this experience has been invaluable to me. I feel that it will give me such a competitive advantage in the future, and for those on the fence about Co-op, I highly recommend giving it a try.