Northeastern University

Evan Whetsell - Class of 2011

Human Services and International Affairs

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

I originally chose international affairs because of my interest in international politics and development. The IAF program at Northeastern lured me in because of the chance to participate in dialogues and in discussion with very passionate students.

I decided to pick up Human Services as a dual concentration because of the department. I was at a ""majors fair"" and began speaking with Lori Gardinier and did not look back. The passion and hands on approach to learning that the department was able to give me was invaluable and I could not turn it down. I knew that although I wanted to look at international development that having contact with my clients directly was something that I needed and this program fit my needs perfectly.

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

I chose Northeastern for a number of reasons. One reason was the co-op program. As someone who has a number of interests and could have potentially ended up in distinctly different fields, I knew that this program offered me a chance to see where I really wanted to be. The program not only would prepare me to be in a number of roles within organizations but would develop me to professionally choose career paths based upon my interests.

On top of the co-op program, Northeastern is a bigger school in the middle of a great city. Although the city can be overwhelming to some, Northeastern offered a campus feel and only had half the amount of students on campus due to co-op. I saw it as the best of both worlds.

How many co-ops have you completed?

Two and an Internship through the Human Services Program.

If you participated in co-op, can you list give a quick synopsis of what you did?

  • Family Equality Council - Development Intern

  • Boston City Council - Policy Intern for Councilor Ayanna Pressley.

  • At Family Equality Council- I primarily worked in the fundraising and donor relations department. I was given a chance to manage the gifts database and play a large role in planning events for the organization. I even was able to host and plan a couple of my own.

    At Boston City Council- I worked on a number of projects during my time at the Boston City Council and was able to participate in all aspects of community engagement. I completed a guide for the Council on the public and federally assisted housing program, a directory of neighborhood associations, developed preparation materials for the Councilor at her events and attended meeting on behalf of the Councilor's office. My role was the first line of communication with the community and was in direct contact with the Councilor on a daily basis.

    What were the highlights and great learning opportunities you gained from your co-op?

    Although I was in intern positions for the duration of my co-ops I was able to gain an immense amount of experience from a number of leaders in the Boston community. From the time I began at Northeastern with ambiguous goals to now, through all of my co-ops and classes, I was able to narrow down my interests and find a field that I am very passionate about.

    I am now able to present my interests and skills in an effective way that employers find attractive. I was able to work in a number of settings with various management styles and ultimately produce reports and work that I am very proud of.

    The highlights were definitely sitting down and talking to staff I worked with about their careers and the paths they took to get where they are. Because I was a co-op and there is a learning aspect attached to it, the employers knew I was trying to further my career and would help me in anyway possible. I was very fortunate to have all wonderful experiences and I keep in contact with all of my employers to this day.

    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?

    Yes, for my senior Internship class I worked at the Back Bay Association as a Research Assistant. I completed a Transportation Policy Report for the Association covering the most up to date information and policies on Parking, Congestion, Alternative Transportation, Bikes, and Pedestrian Flow/Safety. The report was developed entirely on my own and even covered up to date statistics on pedestrian and vehicular congestion. The report is going to be used in a Boston Transportation Summit that will occur in 2012 on behalf of the Back Bay Association.

    Aside from being in a number of clubs, the Dialogue of Civilization Programs were some of the greatest moments of my life. They gave me hands on experience in both Cuernavaca, Mexico and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    Because of the focus on work experience at Northeastern, I was able to not just learn from tours and classes during my time, but from hands on experience. I got to work on site-assessment and grant writing for an orphanage in Mexico while staying with a home stay grandmother and then work on program analysis at Queens University in Belfast for the Spatial Generation and Urban Design department. These programs fueled my passion even further on top of my co-ops and improved the quality of my school work. The papers I was writing, as I professionally developed, changed dramatically and I began to write about things I wanted to know more about and had experience with.

    What are you doing after graduating from NU?

    Now that I have had a sufficient amount of experiences in various fields, I have narrowed down my field to Urban Planning and Development. I am currently interning at New York City Parks and Recreation Department in the Sustainability Initiatives Office. I am working with PlaNYC, the strategic plan to make NYC the greenest city in the country, and gaining incredible experience in sustainable development.

    Starting in September I will be attending Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland to get my Masters in Spatial Regeneration (the program I interned for during my co-op). The city, once described as a walking museum, is the perfect place to study development in the context of political and economic tensions and I could not have asked for a greater opportunity.

    Do you think your co-ops and experiential education have helped you in your career path?

    I recently interviewed for positions at New York City Parks and Recreation and for Queens University in Belfast. At both meetings I was given the same response: "Wow, Northeastern seems like a great program. The co-op program could not have prepared you better". I was able to confidently and eloquently sell my experience and self to a program and tell them what I had to offer them. Often times as a student we are in the position of making limited experience look appealing to employers during interviews. I won't say that does not happen at all anymore, but I have an abundance of experiences that can speak to almost any interview question and job description.

    What is one piece of advice that you would give to current NU students about the co-op process?

    It may sound as if I was asked to write about my positive experiences in Northeastern Co-op program, but I did work very hard to get the positions I wanted and actively made them good experiences and thus I cannot say anything but the best. The work is hard and sometimes you find it tedious or unappealing. However, with all of those times can come the opportunity to have lunch with the Boston City Councilor and talk about your ideas, or sit down with one of the business leaders in Boston or even go to Provincetown, MA with a nationally recognized LGBT rights leader to help out with an event. Those are the times when you need to capitalize and figure out what it is that you want to do and learn from the people with similar passions.

    Questions Answered as of 12-20-2011