I had the opportunity to ask undergraduate Government and Public Policy major Mat M. a few questions about his experience as a co-op. He expects to graduate in May 2015, after which he would like to manage Democratic political campaigns in Delaware and beyond. Reading about the co-op program on our website helped Mat solidify his decision to transfer to Wilmington University.
Read on to find out how Mat is opening doors in his political career and enriching the value of his education through cooperative education.
Describe your co-op experience: where do you work and what do you do there?
I work for the U.S. Senate as Senator Carper’s Deputy New Castle County Director. I take meetings with constituent groups, staff the senator while he is in the county, and handle small business outreach.
I also work for Senator Carper’s campaign committee as its Political Director, where my duties range from fundraising and donor management to working with the Democratic Party to support its ticket in the 2014 election. Both jobs are being used for co-op credit.
Do you feel co-op has helped you get closer to attaining your goals?
Absolutely. My experience with Senator Carper’s staff could never be replicated in a classroom. That’s not just because of the kind of work I have in my own portfolio. A huge part of the value in my experience has come from working with the colleagues, friends, and mentors I’ve found on Senator Carper’s staff. I work every day with people whose passion for public service, diversity of experience, and collective knowledge has taught me more in the past two years than I’ve learned at any time since I took an interest in politics. It’s important to get a college education for the contextual and foundational understanding of your work, but nothing will teach you to do a job better than doing a job.
What made you decide to pursue a co-op position?
I’ve been interested in politics and public service since an 8th grade internship with the City of Newark’s Parks and Recreation Department, and I’ve been steadily involved in campaigns and internships since then. By the time I transferred to Wilmington, I was Senator Carper’s driver and had been working with his team for about a year. It was just a matter of connecting the dots that I could use my work experience to earn credit.
What has been your favorite part(s) of your co-op experience?
Strictly speaking, my favorite part of the co-op is the fact that I get to go to work and earn credit at the same time. But the co-op has enhanced my work experience, because it pushes me to search for a deeper analysis in the work that I do.
Would you recommend the co-op program to other students? Why or why not?
Absolutely. Frankly, it would benefit every college student to round out their education with work experience. The co-op program not only allows you to advance your career by getting work experience before earning your degree, it also gives you a deeper understanding of everything you’ve learned up to that point, and a broader perspective on everything that you learn thereafter.