Northeastern University

Jennifer Robinson - Class of 2008

Human Services and Sociology double major

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

I entered my freshman year having chosen an undecided major. I knew that I wanted to work with people in a direct care capacity such as counseling but was unsure what major would fit the best. Through my Intro to College course I learned about various majors and chose Sociology. After my first sociology class I figured out that Sociology was not exactly the right major for me, as it was based more in research and less in direct care. Still, I loved the classes so I chose to pursue a double major in Sociology and Human Services. For me, this decision was the best one I could have made. I not only got to take classes that I broadened my understanding of populations, but I also learned practical skills that I now use at work every day.

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

The number one reason I chose NU was for the co-op program. Although I was interested in and liked the Human Services/Sociology field, I wasn't sure what jobs were available or what an actual job in the field might be like. Through my studies and co-ops I have learned not only what I don't want to do in the future but also what I love to do. I gained a great amount of knowledge from my classes and now have a much broader understanding by being able to apply that knowledge directly through co-op and experiential learning.

How many co-ops have you completed?


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

My first co-op was at the Kennedy Day School at Franciscan Hospital as a Teaching Assistant. I worked in a classroom for severely mentally and physically challenged students aged 14-22. The day was challenging, rewarding and continuously changing. I assisted the Teacher and other TAs in many tasks including: behavior modification, lessons, communication with parents, daily living skills, and special projects. This job offered a lot of training up front and fostered strong team building skills. I was always learning and never afraid to ask questions because the staff was so open and encouraging.

(Highlights/learning opportunities at Kennedy Day School: the annual prom CPI and CPR training intensive training on daily living skills creating the annual yearbook gaining a much better understanding of developmental and physical disabilities working with behavioral therapists, physical therapists, special education teachers, and clinicians)

My second co-op was at the STRIVE program at the Pine Street Inn (this program was ended at Pine Street in 2009) as a STRIVE Intern. I assisted the Program Director in the daily activities of the STRIVE program. This 3-week course is a job-readiness session offered to homeless men and women who stay at Pine Street Inn. I helped run the STRIVE classes, performed employment counseling, assisted clients with paperwork for legal/housing/medical matters. It was an inspiring program and gave me the opportunity to make strong connections with staff and clients.

(highlights/learning opportunities at STRIVE: seeing the STRIVE trainer in action learning more about CORIs and the housing process giving basic computer classes graduation)

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?

  • Service Learning in Mexico: 3 weeks, language classes, home stay, service at an orphanage and community center, service project
  • Circle K President: a community service student group, national, under the Kiwanis organization, small fee, opportunity to work with many non-profits in Boston, New England chapter retreats
  • Study Abroad in Puebla, Mexico: 6 months, homestay, study at Universidad de Las Americas, classes offered in Spanish and English
  • Research assistant for Professor Gardinier: on service-learning projects in the US
  • volunteer Lead Tutor for City on a Hill: a local charter school, few hours a week, work with 2-3 high school students in Math, English, Spanish and MCAS
  • Human Services Internship at Casa Myrna Vazquez Inc: 2 semester commitment, domestic violence organization, opportunity to counsel, work in the shelter, operate the hotline.
  • 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. Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Yes - I currently work as a Case Manager at Community Healthlink Detox in Worcester, MA.

    My co-ops and experiential education have helped me so much in my career path. Before anything it made my resume look great, and got me a foot in the door. I have applied many, many, many lessons, ideologies, studies, experiences, and practical skills learned at NU.

    I think that in the Sociology and Human Services, as well as other related fields, it is even more valuable to participate in co-op and experiential education as it adds to the depth and understanding of your studies.

    Questions Answered as of 06/18/2009