Co-operatives (also known as “co-ops”) at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) are more invested than your average internship program. Co-ops are, by and large, full-time paid positions. Internships can vary between paid or unpaid and part-time or full-time, depending on the employer and the career field. As the airport invests in the next generation of aviation leaders, there is a mutual benefit to having co-ops and interns on board. They add fresh perspectives, new ideas, and diversity while providing opportunities for current staff to take on leadership roles by stewarding young talent. Co-ops have the chance to be groomed in a work environment that will ultimately prepare them for the workforce upon graduating. The Capital Development Program currently has six Drexel University co-op students, ranging from sophomores to seniors: Derin Thomas Daniel, Shawn King, Nicholas Moore, Jolie Nerosa, Jason Nguyen, and Dai Ton. They recently shared how they have learned to improve their communication skills and are looking to learn more about various aspects of the airport, including mechanical systems, maintaining standard operating procedures, expanding understanding of sustainability, and general knowledge about the aviation industry.
Jolie, who is studying for her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainability, spoke about how she learned the most from these three elements of her internship: planning practice, collaboration, and research. “I’ve enjoyed how new ideas are initiated where collaboration occurs with people contributing back and forth so that an idea becomes more refined as they discuss the topic. I’ve appreciated being given the space to have a voice in contributing and applying what I’ve learned in school on sustainability into practice.” Jolie also noted how she has been able to alleviate the workload burden from staff by being a resource to execute tasks that would otherwise be time-consuming such as data entry for energy usage tracking, so that team can carry out other duties and be more efficient.
In addition to the Capital Development co-ops, PHL recently welcomed intern Sydney Badman to the airport's Government Affairs Department. Sydney, a global studies senior at Temple University, is researching drug testing policies, Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge requirements, grant applications, and monitoring policy changes. Her goal is to present a policy recommendation that transitions into impactful change. “I am extremely passionate about problem-solving, interpersonal communication, and promoting equity,” said Badman. “The Government Affairs Unit challenges me in all of those aspects. There is a unique combination of the public and private sector at PHL, which is an incredible experience.”