Animals, advertising, and entrepreneurship—it’s co-​​op on camera

by Joe O’Connell

The win­ners of the 2014 Coolest Co-​​op Video con­test exem­plify the depth and breadth of Northeastern’s expe­ri­en­tial learning pro­gram. One stu­dent helped develop brand strategy for an adver­tising agency in Boston, while another trained ani­mals in Hawaii. A third stu­dent founded his own video pro­duc­tion com­pany and then inter­viewed a major player in the music industry.

Andy Nagashima, DMSB’15, and Alexander Rickert, S’15, tied for first place, while Colin Beatt, AMD’14, placed third. The annual con­test, spon­sored by the Office of Stu­dent Affairs, chal­lenges under­grad­u­ates to make a short video explaining why their job was cooler than any other expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity in North­eastern co-​​op his­tory. Each winner received a mon­e­tary prize.

Co-​​op is the cor­ner­stone of Northeastern’s expe­ri­en­tial learning model, which com­bines rig­orous aca­d­emic study with stu­dents gaining up to 18 months of real-​​world work expe­ri­ence prior to graduation.

This year’s coolest co-​​op entries were judged by a com­mittee com­prising rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Office of Stu­dent Affairs, the Office of External Affairs, and the Office of Enroll­ment Man­age­ment and Advancement.

Nagashima, a busi­ness major, worked for the Boston branch of the adver­tising agency Hill Hol­iday. As the company’s first North­eastern co-​​op, he helped develop a mar­keting strategy for Cadillac and other brands. He recorded his video with Vine, a mobile appli­ca­tion that enables users to create short looping clips.

Nagashima said up until his second year of col­lege, he never con­sid­ered him­self a brand-​​oriented person. But after learning about design thinking in a class for his entre­pre­neur­ship con­cen­tra­tion, he saw someone can create some­thing new based on design thinking and applied this knowl­edge on co-​​op.

“On co-​​op I was pleased to notice I was able to fully apply what I learned in class to help Cadillac under­stand its cus­tomers on a cere­bral level,” said Nagashima, whose co-​​op expe­ri­ence included co-​​leading a cul­tural study to iden­tify branding oppor­tu­ni­ties and pre­senting brand strate­gies that he per­son­ally developed.

He said the co-​​op expe­ri­ence opened his eyes to new oppor­tu­ni­ties to “dis­cover, create, and inspire.”

Rickert, a biology major, trav­eled all the way to Hawaii for his co-​​op at Sea Life Park on the island of Oahu. He worked as an animal training intern at the edu­ca­tional and enter­tain­ment facility, learning how to com­mu­ni­cate with dol­phins and gaining insight into the marine animal training industry. In par­tic­ular, Rickert worked with the very rare whol­phin, a hybrid mammal whose mother is a bot­tlenose dol­phin and father is a false killer whale.

Rickert said his pas­sion for marine mammal training began at a young age after he watched the 1993 film Free Willy. In his video he also recalled building a model of an Orca tank as his third-​​grade sci­ence project and how he described him­self as a “future Orca trainer” in his sixth-​​grade yearbook.

He said his co-​​op expe­ri­ences North­eastern played a major role in helping him refocus his career direc­tion. After com­pleting a pre­vious co-​​op at a phar­ma­ceu­tical com­pany, he decided to switch gears and pursue a co-​​op that aligned with this pas­sion for marine mammal training.

Beatt, a graphic design major, took a unique approach to his final co-​​op at North­eastern. Instead of applying for video pro­duc­tion co-​​ops that already existed, he decided to start his own company.

Over six months, Beatt worked on about 55 projects, including a short film and an inter­view with disc jockey Clinton Sparks, who has worked with Ludacris, Lady Gaga, and other well-​​known recording artists.

“On top of exper­i­menting with cer­tain videos and new ways of editing and watching tuto­rials online, I had to learn the whole other side of run­ning a busi­ness and being part of the entire cre­ative process of the video,” Beatt explained.

In the process, he learned the impor­tance of max­i­mizing his time. “I made sure I was always doing some­thing that would con­tribute to my skills and work,” Beatt said. “I plan on con­tin­uing to do this. I know I can get work, I know I will enjoy it, and I know I can sup­port myself.”

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