Living and Working in “The Emerald City”

City Spot Seattle

This guest post was written by NU student, Andrew Rota. He recently finished his co-op in Seattle working for the Northeastern Seattle graduate campus.

I had been living in the northeast for far too long. Originally from western Massachusetts, I always wanted to move out of state, but knew that Northeastern with its experiential education component was the smartest career choice I could make. While looking for other cities to live, Seattle stood out as a center for entrepreneurship and innovation. Knowing that I wanted to go into product development, Seattle seemed like a good option for a change.

I went through the same process as most. I applied for my position through myNEU COOL and then got an email requesting an interview—the difference being it was via Skype. I requested an office in the Sterns Center to borrow for the interview (which clearly went pretty well) and then was offered the position as Marketing/Social Media Manager for Northeastern’s Seattle Campus.

I’ll admit, I was nervous to move across the country. Finding housing was a bit stressful but ended up working out to be a good value with roommates who have become close friends. I am an avid biker, so I disassembled and packed up my bike and brought it with me on the plane. Once I was settled into my new apartment, I had my roommates in Boston send three pre-packed boxes, unfortunately I only received two. I did end up receiving the final box… three months later. Lesson #1: Do not let your roommates paste shipping labels on valuables, especially if they’ve never done that before. Lesson #2: Always put a very high declared value on your packages in case they do not make it the lofty 3,000 miles.

Working at the Seattle Graduate Campus is a unique experience that has provided me with great opportunities. While we are part of the large Northeastern structure, we also have our own entrepreneurial start-up environment. The combination of these two structures creates incredible oscillation in any given work day. In a single day, I might, for example, take pictures for an event we are hosting, write an article for our website, and later on attend a networking event at the Space Needle.

Since it is a relatively small team (only 10) compared to most of the University, there is an “all hands on deck” atmosphere. Many of the positions encompass what would be whole departments back in Boston and my role is no exception.  We frequently interact with our colleagues in Boston for support, though I have full accountability for my job responsibilities.

One of the benefits of my position would be the work culture.  In fact, it has been one of my favorite aspects of the position; it is extremely collaborative and exciting. All my coworkers are positive and actively include me on initiatives and projects they believe are of interest to me.

When I started in June, I was encouraged to sit down and write out my own professional development goals. I was then able to customize additional responsibilities to help me meet those goals by the end of my co-op. For example, one of my goals is to improve my writing ability. As a result, I now write various articles and news posts for the campus that get published in the Seattle Campus News weekly. Additionally, there are numerous opportunities to meet and interact with prominent leaders both within Northeastern and with outside executives. Some challenges include that fact that the job is always changing. Sometimes this is a benefit because it keeps the role fresh but in other circumstances, it can be difficult to adjust.

Seattle is a dynamic and one-of-a-kind city with so much to do. The city is surrounded by water with magnificent views of two separate mountain ranges. It has everything you could want including nightlife and cultural destinations while still being located close to plentiful nature opportunities (an important component for someone who grew up in the woods of Western Mass.). The city is changing rapidly and there is lots of transformation.

One thing Seattle lacks is the historic preservation tradition of an older city, something Boston is rich with. Although I love the changing and zestful atmosphere, there could still be room for 19th century Victorian homes, which once stood, and a more active sense of preservation. Though it is in the works, Seattle (unlike Boston) does not have a large subway system. There is a decent bus system but most people still drive.

Although my current position is not in the field of my dreams, I have learned many transferable skills. I am currently helping the Dean here on a national initiative to increase S.T.E.M. graduates and a special project to increase student involvement for a Senior Vice President in Boston. All in all, I’ve enjoyed my experience and would encourage any NU student to trek the 3,000 miles to check it out.

Welcome to the European “Student City”: Leuven, Belgium

City Spot Leuven

“I knew I wanted to travel abroad,” explained Behavioral Neuroscience Senior Jake Jordan, who is currently completing his co-op as a Research Assistant in a lab studying neuroscience in the city of Leuven, Belgium. “I originally went to my co-op advisor who directed me to the international co-op office. At first they didn’t have anything, and I was like ‘okay, I’ll just go abroad after graduation or whatever’ but then she got back to me a while later and said something had opened up in Belgium so I jumped on that.”

Jake has actually been working overseas for about 8 months– longer than the tradition co-op of 6 months and took over for his lab’s very first Northeastern co-op student. “The process wasn’t too bad. The best piece of advice is to do your research and plan way ahead. Like, I didn’t know that there were only a few Belgium visa offices in the whole country, luckily there is one in New York where I’m from, but if I was from the Midwest or something I would have been screwed.”

Market in Leuven, Belgium during one of many summer music festivals

Market in Leuven, Belgium during one of many summer music festivals

Jake interviewed via Skype with his boss who is originally from Canada. He explained that one of his favorite aspects of working in Belgium is the diversity of the people he works with. “There are people from all around the world here, it’s really cool. The culture is a lot different too. It is a little bit more laid back than the US. There are always people in common areas and it’s very common to just walk around and hang out.” When asked what his favorite part of his job was, “it’s always changing, it’s a small office but it’s exciting—which is actually the most challenging thing too, but I really like it so it’s a good challenging.”

His favorite food: the waffles (of course). What does he miss the most? “Northeastern, my friends and my family of course. Oh, and baseball definitely.”

Kelly Scott is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University and social media enthusiast.  A Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

If you know anyone who would be a great City Spotlight feature, contact Ashley LoBue at a.lobue@neu.edu for more details.

In a New York state of mind…

City Spot NYC

Allison Walker has been working at BWR Public Relations in an exciting, fast-paced internship in the Big Apple for the past few months.  Despite the high cost of living, (a standard movie-ticket will cost you $13.50!) and despite the fact that NY is home to some of Boston’s biggest sport rivals (the Yankees), Allison has thoroughly enjoyed her internship and time so far in NYC.  She was kind enough to give me the inside scoop on her internship, her viewpoint of NYC, and advice for any Husky who is looking to intern there.

Ashley LoBue (AL): What type of public relations does BWR Public Relations do?

Allison Walker (AW): BWR Public Relations is a celebrity PR company that works on the talent side, so we do celebrity PR, but we also do events for corporations.  

(AL): Tell me a little bit about what you do day-to-day as a public relations intern.

(AW):  Well the good news is that I never have to get coffee! It’s great because I get to do minimum “intern” work. In the beginning I had to do some photocopying, and I was charged with updating both electric and binder press kits for clients, but then I started getting more responsibility as the internship went on, which was really cool.  I was given the opportunity to work NYC Fashion week, where I created client schedules, booked them for shows, and acted as their informal “body guard” during shows. So, I basically managed their interviews and any interactions they had with the press and photographers.  I also got to go to the DKNY birthday party and made sure the clients were situated there and helped my supervisors create client schedules and looks for the Emmys.  I’m really excited that I get to go to these types of different events (I go by myself or with a publicist) to make sure that everything is going according to plan for different BWR clients.  

 (AL): So now I know a little bit about what you do and what you enjoy as part of the internship.  What do you find challenging?

(AW): Sometimes the work hours are challenging. For Fashion Week, I had to work all day and into the night to coordinate everything and make sure everything was going smoothly.

(AL): Could you take me through the process of how you got your position in NYC?

(AW): I got the interview through the co-op system! It’s the first time they are doing co-op. I interviewed with them at their office in NYC. It’s best to go to interviews in person unless it’s really difficult to get there.

(AL): Do you have any advice for students that want to work in PR?

(AW): Well, I do have a really big background in entertainment PR and film, and I’ve also done music PR, which probably made it easier for me to land this internship.  They are looking for someone who is really outgoing and is not just going to just sit in the back corner and wait for someone to tell them what to do.  They like people who can take initiative and ask, “What do you need? I can do this.” PR needs a type of person who can put him or herself out there. So, my advice is to be confident and let people see your willingness to work hard and passion for the industry.

(AL): What are some of the major differences between living in Boston vs. living in NYC?

(AW): NYC is a lot more expensive than Boston and a lot more fast-paced and cut throat than Boston.  People think,” oh that’s not true, it’s just a rumor”, but it’s so true.  Honestly, everyone has either done what you’ve done or done more, but that makes you more driven and makes you want to try harder, which is one of my favorite things about the city.  NY is a perfect place to start a career or intern because it makes you ready for anything and made me into a super intern.  Boston is a great place to intern, but NY has made me excited, driven and competitive. NYC is one of my favorite places, so I might be biased, but I definitely recommend for anyone to intern here at least once.

 (AL): What do you want to do post-graduation?

(AW): I do like celebrity PR– it’s fun, exciting and I get to do a lot of fun stuff.  I’m not sure though.  I think maybe something in the entertainment field because I like that environment.  Journalism or public relations is probably where I’m going to end up.

(AL): And finally, what is your favorite food in NYC?

(AW): That’s a tough one. Probably the 24 hour diners!

Ashley LoBue is a Career Advisor and The Works’ City Spotlight corespondent  If you want to be featured as a City Spotlight, or know somebody who should, contact her at a.lobue@neu.edu.