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.