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Why I Decided to Stay in Philadelphia for Co-op

During A-Round, I got two AMAZING offers from a law firm in Philadelphia and an opportunity to work in a law firm or sex trafficking nonprofit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. After all my interviews, I was so sure I wasn’t going to get the job at the law firm, so my heart was set on doing an international co-op. When the results came out, I was so excited I got both, but I agonized for as long as I could about my decision. Here’s why and how I decided to stay in Philadelphia instead of going to Cambodia (my mini pros and cons list).

Philadelphia scene


Convenience of Location

This job is in Philadelphia, so I wouldn’t have to move out of my house and worry about finding someone to sublet. It’s always a hassle to move me out and my parents aren’t getting any younger, so I didn’t want to burden them.

It Pays

I get a decent amount of money per hour for a student that has a humanities major, so that was a major plus.

It Was The Only Domestic Co-op I Really Wanted

I have been wanting to do an international co-op ever since freshman year because I knew I only had one. When I was looking at co-ops, I wanted to go to California, but the outside search was too complicated for me. With my heart set on Cambodia, this specific co-op in Philadelphia was the only one I would have said yes to.


In my interview, they asked me what I wanted to do after Drexel, and I told them I wanted to go to law school in LA. When I said that, they immediately told me about their office in LA. I said I knew about it and one of my interviewers told me that even if I didn’t co-op there, they could connect me with the office in California, which is where I’ve wanted to live since middle school.

One Co-op

I realized that I only had one co-op, so I wanted to choose one which most likely gives me a foot in the door in the States. Being in Cambodia would have been absolutely amazing and I think I would have chosen it in a heartbeat if I had three co-ops, but because I only have one, I chose what I thought was best for my career.

Mandarin Chinese

For my co-op in Cambodia, I would absolutely need to study Mandarin Chinese because I would have to use it on the job. I would have been overwhelmed with the actual work and adjusting to life in Cambodia, it would be even more stressful to study and practice Chinese every day.


Lastly, I was afraid I would regret not choosing the position at the law firm I wanted to so much that I prayed to my late grandfather for it (and I’m an atheist).

Phnom Penh

A few reasons why I didn’t want to stay in Philadelphia:

  1. Location: The job was in Philadelphia, and I didn’t want to stay here at all. I had been wanting to do a co-op out-of-state since my first year, so it was hard to choose between my options. With it being in Philadelphia, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to leave for California after graduation.
  2. Connections: If I had chosen Cambodia, I wouldn’t have been able to make international connections. Also, I am planning on moving to Sacramento. They don’t have an office in Sacramento, just Los Angeles.
  3. Travel: When I thought I wasn’t going to get the job in Philadelphia, I started planning a soft itinerary for Cambodia. I wanted to visit a lot of countries, like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. When I got the results back, it was so hard choosing if I wanted to give up on my plans.
  4. Funding: I received $9000 in funding to go to Cambodia and I wouldn’t have had to pay for the flight and program fee. Cambodia uses USD and it is very cheap to live there so it would have been amazing to have to spend so little for six months in Asia.
  5. Regret. Again, I was afraid of regretting not going to Cambodia. Since I got $9000 in funding for the program, I thought if I didn’t leave Philadelphia, it would be the biggest waste of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It was really hard to pick my co-op job but, in the end, I knew either opportunity would have been so wonderful for me and I don’t think I could have made a wrong decision.

Diane Nguyen

Drexel '21

Diane Nguyen is a Drexel University senior from Boston, Massachusetts. As a Global Studies major and Criminal Justice and Chinese double-minor, she is interested in human rights, specifically immigration and environmental law. She also hopes to volunteer for the Peace Corps and be a part of a nonprofit organization that helps child sex trafficking victims recover from their trauma.
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