(Photo by Flickr user Tyler Bolken, used under a Creative Commons license)
2016 marks the 20th year Drexel University has offered online programs through Drexel University Online.
Now more than ever, Drexel is making its online presence known, whether it be through helping prepare an online course for a Philadelphia opera production or ranking among U.S. News’ Top 100 for several of its online programs.
A particularly important commitment of the program tackles a problem Senior Vice President of Online Learning Susan Aldridge says companies face when trying to hire veterans, and vice versa for veterans trying to transition into the civilian workforce.
“One of the greatest challenges the HR departments that want to hire veterans, and that veterans themselves have, is how to translate and describe the work they did in the military in civilian job terms, or career terms,” Aldridge said. “They’re really two different languages in a way.”
That’s where Drexel Online’s MySTEPs program comes in as that “translator.”
Having debuted last October, the My Skills Translator & Experience Portfolios service is free software that veterans can use to set up an account and download their Joint Services Transcript, a summary of their military experience. The software, developed by Indtai, Inc. and adapted by Drexel, automatically translates that experience into possible civilian career fields and jobs, which are up-to-date thanks to the software being linked to the Department of Labor’s database. Partnerships with companies like security firm AlliedBarton, which Aldridge said has a preference for hiring veterans, help MySTEPs provide these jobs.
In addition to generating a draft of a resume, it shows the number of jobs that exist in a zip code and salary ranges.
MySTEPs also caters to veterans who want to explore a career path different than what their military experience covers and connects them with Drexel degree programs aligning with their interests. Aldridge noted that with over 140 academic programs and certificates Drexel offers completely online, MySTEPs works in tune with Drexel’s mission in growing its online presence.
“It’s a win-win-win situation for the veteran who’s looking not only for a civilian job when they get out of the service but they’re looking for the academic credentials that will enhance their ability to get a job,” she said. “It’s also then linked to the companies that are offering jobs that are particularly looking for veterans to hire in their company.”
Drexel’s support of veterans and active duty service members also extends to its collaboration with various military benefits, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Yellow Ribbon Program — not every school participates in this program and Drexel does not cap the amount of students it takes in.
Tiffany Dydak, a military enrollment counselor for Drexel Online (who is also featured in a video tour of MySTEPs), explained how these benefits can be allusive, so it’s her job to properly inform and help prospective students.
“A lot of military people don’t know the full extent of their benefits,” said Dydak, who is currently studying for her graduate certificate in project management at Drexel. “I figured out all of that myself, which is why I’m able to turn around and tell them, ‘OK this is what you need, this is what you do.’”
Aldridge is committed in Drexel Online’s goal of providing opportunities for veterans regardless of location.
“That’s why online programs are so helpful — regardless of where they live in the United States, they’re still able to continue with their education,” she said. “Drexel University will be here to serve them wherever they are.”