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(Updates with Ryan Williams' age and corrects description of intern's expected role at EBay.)
MBA students at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business will get an opportunity next year that other B-school students only dream of: a shot at working in the corporate C-suite.
The students will compete for C-suite positions at top companies including EBay (EBAY) (EBAY), Cisco (CSCO) (CSCO), and Urban Outfitters (URBN) (URBN) as part of LeBow’s new 15-month, full-time MBA course, which will replace the school’s one- and two-year programs starting this fall. Of the 35 or so students in the class, eight to 10 will land co-ops, or extended internships, for three months after completing three quarters of coursework.
“We want to give students an opportunity to peek into the corporate suite, which could be a real advantage,” says Frank Linnehan, LeBow’s interim dean. “Sometimes, business issues look very different from the top rather than from the middle or bottom.”
Those who had already applied to either the one- or two-year program have agreed to throw their hats into the ring for the new option. Getting hired for a co-op will be quite competitive, says Linnehan. The school will identify about a dozen students who are at the top of their class in academics and other achievements, such as performance on projects. Finalists will give presentations and answer questions from a panel of judges consisting of representatives from the participating companies. Then each company will choose its students.
Unlike traditional internships, the co-op will have students work on projects that may have the ear of the chief executive officer, says Linnehan. The EBay intern will probably work on a project to help identify and understand EBay’s future customer. The hope, says Linnehan, is that the student can help the company tweak its model for attracting users for at least the next three years. The other co-ops might include work in finance or analytics, he adds. Students who don’t end up being among the eight to 10 in the co-ops will choose among a traditional internship, consulting projects, or study abroad programs.
LeBow is not new to the world of co-ops. Its five-year undergraduate program allows students to participate in more than one co-op during college so they can gain up to 18 months of professional experience before graduating. Students, who earn academic credit, are usually paid for the positions, which last from three to six months and appear on their transcripts.
“I feel like I’m making a difference in the company,” says Ryan Williams, a business administration major who’s had two co-op positions, one in sales and marketing and the other in market research. “In turn, I’m learning a whole bunch, including responsibility and how to conduct myself in the corporate environment.”
Williams says the new program puts the MBA in a whole new light. “The MBA was not originally part of my plan,” adds Williams, 21. “But the networking opportunities combined with the C-Suite co-op have made me reconsider.”