To start with, the Antioch Cooperative Education program was the reason I attended Antioch over Stanford. I am a native Californian, but my parents thought it would be good for me to see the rest of the country. In addition, my father was selling truck parts to what was then White Motors in Cleveland, and their Chief Engineer said Antioch engineers were the only ones that could design parts that could be produced for a target price. It didn’t hurt that Fressa Inman, Antioch’s Registrar, journeyed to San Francisco from Yellow Springs to meet with about five prospective students. As I recall, Antioch accepted all of us, and two of us graduated together.
Against that backdrop, I was prepared to like Antioch’s Co-op program.
After I did my first co-op, in Chicago in the winter, I wasn’t too sure. But, the law firm in which I worked certainly convinced me that I didn’t want to become a lawyer, so that was a valid co-op experience.
Other notable co-ops (and I found most of them, because Antioch wasn’t strong in business co-ops), were as a junior staff economist for the Federal Trade Commission, a New York advertising firm, and a New York financial public relations firm (twice). The ad and P.R. firms convinced me that I didn’t want to be a Mad Man.
After the FTC co-op, Antioch hit bottom on business co-ops, (they had only about three co-ops), so I went ‘own plans’, which meant you were on the hook to find your own co-op jobs. Which is how the ad and P.R. jobs came to be. And, I just couldn’t see myself as an orderly in a hospital, which is where I was bound if I didn’t find a job.
One of the more colorful co-op experiences came when my dad fired his Northwest sales representative just before I was due to go on co-op, and asked me if I could cover the Northwest until he found a replacement. He literally handed me a roadmap and a list of accounts and the keys to a company vehicle, and said “Well, you can’t do any worse than he did.” I was on the road for the better parts of two months to wonderful places in Montana, Idaho and Eastern Washington. As part of this co-op, he also sent me to Los Angeles to look into why one of his companies wasn’t making the money that he thought it should; I figured it out.
Probably the most unique co-op experience was when I did my year abroad (fourth year of five), living in Italy, and my dad wanted me to research the European marketing for his parts. So, I went to the AEA-sponsored Italian business school four or five days a week, but I missed a lot of Fridays and Mondays because I was somewhere in Europe selling truck parts. I opened up Fiat and Volvo, among others. And, when school ended, I worked at selling full time, again going all over Europe, and opened up British Leyland.
So, that’s my co-op experience. I hope other Antiochians remember the program as fondly as I do, and they benefit as much. The co-op experiences are truly life changing.
~ John Heinrich, ‘66