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“As one of the first students who went through the co-op program, I found it invaluable. Until you work full time, it is hard to assess what kind of work environment you want. During this experience I worked with a career coach, peer coach and a relationship partner which was an invaluable experience."

Amber Mole '18

Responding to the demand for a professional, qualified workforce to address the needs of the region’s growing economy, Point Park University has established the Professional Career Readiness Center to provide students with unique opportunities for experiential learning, career readiness and success in the professional world.   

The focal point of the new Center is the University’s cooperative education program. Cooperative education — cooperation between student and employer — allows a student to work as a full-time, salaried employee while earning a degree. Point Park collaborates with more than 40 companies through Pittsburgh and the surrounding region to provide an immersive, full-time work experience. 

“For many students, the choice is either going to college or getting a full-time job, but not both,” said Point Park University President Paul Hennigan, Ed.D. “As educators, we felt this wasn’t a choice any young person should have to make.  Making full-time, meaningful employment available while earning a degree can help make college possible for so many deserving students.” 

Fifty students have successfully completed the University’s pilot co-op program and have landed jobs at such companies as national concert promoter Live Nation, Pittsburgh-based marketing and advertising agency Flying Cork, PNC and UPMC.

Amber Mole, a 2018 Point Park business management and accounting graduate, completed her co-op program at PwC in Pittsburgh.

“As one of the first students who went through the co-op program, I found it invaluable. Until you work full time, it is hard to assess what kind of work environment you want. During this experience I worked with a career coach, peer coach and a relationship partner which was an invaluable experience,” Mole said.

She is currently working as an assurance associate for PwC in Philadelphia.

In addition to the cooperative education program, the Center offers students access to internships, a career-focused curriculum and soft skills (for example, communication, problem solving and collaboration) and Pathways to Success, a program coordinated by the Center, aimed at helping students keep on track to earning their degree.   

Another significant focus of the Center is to provide opportunities for interaction with business leaders, community partners or employers through career-focused workshops, seminars and other networking opportunities.

Pictured is co-op employer Jude Michaels. Photo by Randall Coleman.“The students I have hired from Point Park have demonstrated great book-smart skills, but even better interpersonal and social skills. I believe Point Park’s commitment to having professors and instructors who have worked in the fields of study provide students with reasonable expectations and the knowledge they will need to advance in their careers has been key to making the cooperative education program a success," said Jude Michaels, president of Flying Cork, pictured right.

According to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s Inflection Point reports (2016-18), many recent college graduates are lacking in so-called “soft skills.” These include collaboration, communication, time management and adaptability. 

Such soft skills, along with the necessary hard skills and technical expertise associated with the jobs of the future — also outlined in Inflection Point — are critical to employers’ success and the region’s ability to compete globally,” said Stefani Pashman, CEO of Allegheny Conference.

The Professional Career Readiness Center includes:

  • Cooperative Education Program
  • Internships
  • Career Development Center
  • Career-Focused Curriculum/Soft Skills
  • Industry-Experienced Faculty
  • Center for Student Success
  • Professional Facilities
  • Downtown Pittsburgh location

"We applaud Point Park for its leadership role in recognizing the importance of better career preparation and creating a one-stop-shop for making that happen. The resources available through the Center will help ensure students get the mentoring, direction and support they need,” Pashman added.


More About: Career Development Center, Downtown Pittsburgh, internships, co-op program