Logistics of International Co-op

Last week, I was a panelist at a global co-op event held by GlobeMed. A lot of the questions directed toward the six of us (students who had co-oped in Uganda, Ghana, and South Africa) were logistical – what resources we used on campus, how we set up our living situation, how we chose our co-ops – so I thought I’d write about that since there might be some people who are curious about the application process itself.

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Pursuing an international co-op was not as difficult as some people make it out to be. Instead of my college advisor, I worked closely with the advisors at the international co-op office, newly reformed as the “Global Experience Office,” since they were more familiar with the process of applying to international programs.

With most international experiences, it is a lot easier to work with what is called a provider. Providers are agencies that link volunteers with on-ground programs. Each site has a local coordinator, who sometimes becomes your host upon your arrival. In my program, I had a host family so I did not have to worry about food or accommodation for the entirety of my stay. As such, you do end up paying to volunteer, but the funds go toward your accommodation, placement into the program, and support from international coordinators. When I went to the international co-op office, I was given a long list of clinical-related programs through many different providers. I chose my provider based on affordability, type of work, and past reviews.

Choosing the country I wanted to work in was another ordeal. The provider I chose, Experiential Learning International, has sites in 28 countries, giving me plenty of options to choose from. I worked in a process of elimination. Growing up, I lived in six countries, mostly in Asia, so I decided that I wanted to visit another part of the world. I also wanted to avoid very developed areas that were similar to the US, so that eliminated Europe. I found that a lot of the Latin American countries required Spanish skills, so that was also off the table. What remained was Africa. South Africa was too developed for me – I wanted a very rustic and real experience. I also eliminated countries in West Africa due to the Ebola scare. So I was left with East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kenya was on the US no-travel list due to unrest and occasional terrorism acts, so I decided against petitioning with Northeastern to attempt to go anyway. They do not speak much English in Tanzania, so I was finally left with Uganda. In hindsight, I am very happy with the choice I ended up making. Although I had no idea at the time, this co-op turned into the most eye-opening experience I’ve had yet and gave me opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.

I cannot recommend international co-op enough. Whether you choose the country before the work placement or vice versa, there is so much to learn from living and working in a place that is completely outside of your comfort zone. If you do decide to pursue an international experience, good luck and enjoy it!

New Blog Series Announcement: Beyond the Green Line

BGL-seatleskyDid you know that several big cities across the country recently saw a huge uptick in their numbers of young college-educated professionals? Did you know that San Francisco was number 1 on Forbes list of America’s 20 Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2016?

Stay tuned on Tuesday for the debut of Beyond the Green Line (BTGL), a new blog series featured on the Northeastern University Career Development Blog, ‘The Works’.  In it, we’ll highlight a particular metropolitan region outside Boston and give you an inside look at the local food and music scene, fun things to do, and the industries that are thriving in the area.  We’ll also throw in some current job postings for you to consider. And Tuesday, we’re looking at the San Francisco Bay Area.

We’ll be needing your help too. After each Beyond the Green Line post, we’ll let you know what area we’ll be highlighting next so you can send us your photos of that area whether you’ve co-op’ed there or are from there originally. If you’re lucky, we’ll include your picture in the post! And of course, let us know if there are particular metropolitan areas you want to know more about – we’ll add them to our list for future posts!

Global Co-op Spotlight: Turing Robotics

I’d like to introduce a new series that will be written by current student, Manuj Goyal, Manuj will be sharing his journey with us as he travel abroad in India as part of his own self-directed Global Co-op focusing on the Development work for his company, Turing Robotics.

Turing Robotics is a young robotics firm that manufactures a variety of sports facility maintenance robots. With a focus on innovation and excellence, their first product line focused on the maintenance of tennis facilities.Their products deal with courts ranging from outdoor hard, clay, grass, and carpet courts to indoor courts. As a company they look to constantly grow and continue innovating in new industries while maintaining the principles with which we were founded. Manuj currently manages all operations of the startup as it moves from concept generation and prototype development to manufacturing and sales.

Currently Turing Robotics is working on developing a nonprofit branch which has the vision of reducing child labor and increasing K-12 education rural farmlands throughout India. This is the focus of Manuj’s current co-op abroad.

taj-mahal-1030894_1920The focus of Manuj’s travels for Turing Robotics and the team within this company is to reconnect with its networks globally, establish itself in India, and begin this impactful and innovative project in India. As with all Turing Robotics projects,  the first step of debuting the non-profit branch of Turing Robotics will begin with  thorough and intense  research of the needs of the customer, the restrictions of the environment, and the concrete  definition of the problem  to be solved.

Stay tuned and follow along with Manuj these next few months. He will share his travels, challenges, reflection and success along his journey!