Northeastern University

Chelsea Stine - Class of 2011

Human Services and International Affairs

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Why did you choose this major, and does/did it seem like the right major for you? Why?

After having a few other majors I found out about the International Affairs program which was interesting to me because of the focus on international organizations and non profits. After being in that program for a semester I took an intro to Human Service class which immediately caught my interest. This was a field that seemed to incorporate everything that interested me including direct service work, hands on learning, mental health, and policy. Also as I progressed in the Major I learned that Human Services offered a diverse array of possible jobs and fields that I could pursue. Also, I found the department to be welcoming and helpful when talking to me about the major and what opportunities I could explore within the program.

Why did you choose NU? Was/is this the right school for you?

I chose Northeastern because growing up in a rural community I liked the idea of living in a city but being at a school that had a "campus" feel like any other rural college might. I also loved the way the coop program was presented. The idea of being able to work in my field and applying concepts I learned in the classroom, while having a 6 month "break" from classes sounded great...little did I know I would be learning just as much working as I did in classes.

I think that Northeastern was a great choice for me. I was confident when accepting and didn't even know all of the opportunities I would be able to take advantage of while being at Northeastern. For instance, the Dialogue short term study abroad program, is something I only wish I knew about sooner. I would not trade my experience abroad for anything. I was able to take part in hands on learning while traveling and meeting new and interesting people in the field.

How many co-ops have you completed?

I have completed two coops, one paid and one 20/20 unpaid coop.

Can you list the companies and give a quick synopsis of what you did?

My first co-op was at Barakat Inc. as an Barakat Inc. - I started as an event planner, then moved on to working in corporate outreach, and continued to work on multiple projects. After my coop ended I was asked to stay at Barakat as the Intern Coordinator. This was a great opportunity for me to learn a different role, as well as take on more responsibility at the organization.

My second was at the Deshpande Foundation. At Deshpande, I was given the title of Associate. This was a very different organization and position from that at Barakat Inc. Barakat focused much of its efforts on outreach, and fundraising to support it's international programs. Deshpande Foundation did not need to seek funding, so I focused much of my time either doing HR - sitting in on interviews of candidates for the fellowship program, doing research to help expand foundation work, or building the foundation's social networking. I also had smaller projects that I worked on, but these were the main focuses.

If you participated in co-op, what were the highlights/great learning opportunities you gained?

I think that during both of my co-ops I was able to get experience working independently on projects, as well as having a great deal of responsibility. I learned how to manage my time efficiently without being constantly overseen. Also I was able to be part of an organization during a key developmental period, and take part in helping it grow. This was a great part of working at a small organization where I was able to have a great deal of hands on responsibilities. I also became an expert in Social Networking, something I knew how to use as a consumer, but now understand from a business perspective, which is important in the developing technological world.

Did you have any other "learning from outside of the classroom" (service learning, student leadership, study abroad, research, or volunteering) that also enriched your time here?

I was able to take part in many of these learning outside the classroom opportunities. Service-Learning: I took over five different service-learning courses while at Northeastern, and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this program. Service-learning allowed me to simultaneously apply what I was learning in the class room to the "real world" and then have somewhere to debrief and discuss what I was doing and learning at my service placement. In my opinion this is the best way to learn and solidify knowledge.

While at Northeastern I also had the opportunity to start a student group which would serve as a campus branch of Barakat where I had previously done my co-op. This was a good process to go through and understand. While it was difficult to accomplish, it was great to be able to take on as a student, and learn the process for doing so.

Dialogue of Civilizations: I was able to take part in two different Dialogue programs. The first one was a Human Service focused program in Benin, West Africa. Here I spent much of my time working with women who had a micro loan to produce palm oil and flour so that they could make a profit and then send orphan children they cared for to school. Aside from working with these amazing women, being in Benin was an incredible experience in it self. I met so many amazing people and learned about a new and interesting culture, taking a break from the American culture I am around everyday was uplifting and refreshing, a new learning experience every day.

More recently I went to the Balkans (Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Croatia) where I studied the post conflict area. This was a great learning experience, I was able to get a solid understanding of what happened in this area during the time of conflict from multiple points of view. The structure of this trip allowed us to gain an unbiased understanding of the conflict through meeting with governments, non profit organizations, and knowledgeable individuals.

I have also been connected with many volunteering opportunities through Northeastern as well as my classmates who may be doing their co-op or service-learning elsewhere, and let me know about an event I could volunteer at. It's really awesome how the network between classmates evolves.

Have you Graduated from NU? If Yes, please let us know what you are doing and if you think your co-ops and experiential education have helped you in your career path.

I graduated from Northeastern officially in January 2011. I have been accepted to the 2011 Teach For America Corps in New York City, where I will be teaching special education. I think that my co-op and leadership experience at Northeastern definitely helped me become a great candidate for Teach For America. I felt confident interviewing, and confident in the skill that I had developed during my studies and "outside of the classroom learning." Without the unique experiences Northeastern had provided to me through co-op, study abroad, and service-learning, I would have had a hard time saying I was prepared to even apply to Teach For America.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to recommend that student research what this University has to offer them, the second they are accepted. There are so many programs, courses, and activities I wish I had been a part of, but was unaware of their availability to me. There are so many resources available to students at Northeastern University, it is important to understand them and get to know them well so that students can make the best of their time here.

Questions Answered as of 01-31-2011