Spreading my Wings - Lessons learned from our (former) Drexel Co-op — in his own words
Before attending my first meeting with Jami Slotnick, Spread’s Brand/Marketing Manager, I recall an uneasiness simply because I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t worked in a restaurant setting since my first year at Drexel –on the inside, I felt a bit out of touch. Both of my previous Co-op positions were in typical corporate offices. Having been to Spread’s 2401 Walnut St. location numerous times in the past (as a hungry college student), I remember feeling especially odd as I walked through the front door sporting a freshly ironed blazer on the day of my official interview. My real-world marketing experience had been in B2B and B2G settings, and I just was not sure if working at Spread Bagelry would be a good fit. Simply put, I was still searching for my own north star, and walking confidently into the constructs of a B2C operation gave me some apprehension.
Despite my pervasive worry, everything clicked after my first interview back in the Spring of 2023. Something about the post-it note-covered walls and the smell of freshly baked bagels gave way to an important realization. I had been short-sighted by thinking in such a linear fashion. As Jami and I continued to chat over the hustle and bustle of the adjacent kitchen, it became clear that my work at Spread had to do with playing a role in the growth of a fast-paced, rapidly scaling business, and targeting specific audiences/consumer personas. There was an excitement attached to better understanding the crossroads of new media and old media touchpoints.
In many ways, working at Spread’s corporate headquarters (A.K.A. ‘Spreadquarters’) has been like working at a bustling startup. From the get-go, I was welcomed by everyone with open arms and awarded legitimate responsibilities almost immediately. From working hard to spur donations for Spread’s Eagles Autism Challenge team, “Spread Love” on a Monday, to visiting local schools to drop off ‘surprise’ bagels on Teacher Appreciation Day on a Tuesday, each day presented new challenges to overcome, different things to learn, and unique problems to solve for the soon-to-be 17-location, fast-casual business.
Fast forward to today, as I head into my last two terms as a college senior, I could not be more grateful. My confidence has been elevated, as has my taste for great bagels. Spread has retained me to work part-time indefinitely, which is everything.
Like anyone approaching their college graduation, there are some big decisions on the horizon. While my post-graduate plans may still be up in the air, I do know one thing for certain: My time at Spread Bagelry has set the bar high. This Co-op has been, by far, the most insightful and rewarding experience I have had during my time at Drexel. I feel more equipped than ever to enter the workforce and begin my professional career in marketing. Thanks to Jami’s quest to make me a better writer, my journalistic skills have also improved.
My advice for other students entering or already within the Co-op program? Keep an open mind and just go for it. Working at three vastly different companies has offered unique and invaluable insights into the kind I see myself doing in the future. My trifecta of Co-ops also helped me focus on my career trajectory in a more finite way. Whether it’s creative ideation or data mining, my skill sets have deepened, and my knowledge of industry lingo/jargon has also increased. All of this just points to confidence and pride. I feel more self-assured which is huge prior to fearlessly catapulting myself into the real world.
For me, keeping an open mind has allowed the advantages my time at Drexel to span far beyond the obvious “foot in the door.” For me, going with the flow truly allowed me to spread my wings not only in a marketing sense, but also in an entrepreneurial sense. Getting your hands dirty in marketing, operations, HR, executive leadership, and culinary exploration takes a keen creative ability when it comes to problem-solving. The canvases may be different in each silo, but the bravery, risks, and rewards are all the same.