Northeastern University

Allegra Harris

1. Why did you choose Northeastern?

I originally choose Northeastern for its campus. Northeastern was my first choice (and the only school I toured) but I was still undecided about other schools I had gotten into. What helped my decision was going to a presentation on the International Affairs Department. I really liked what they had to say. The program and the opportunities it offered were exactly what I wanted.

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

I chose International Affairs because not only did it encapsulate so many of the areas I already liked to study but also there was so much involved in this concentration that I didn't know, that I wanted to explore more deeply.

3. Are there a lot of co-op options for International Affairs majors?

YES! First and foremost International Co-op! I have a friend who is going to work on a sustainable farm in New Zealand. I've had friends work for the UN in Geneva; another friend is finishing up teaching in Cambodia. There are so many options all over the world and the people atinternational co-op will tell you that having international work experience is a huge advantage! Go to this website and contact the people there. Even if you don't want to do international co-op this semester but want to do it eventually, start looking into it now! Then within the US there are so many options from working for Amnesty International, the UN in New York, to work for small non-profits. I even have friends who have made their own connections and created their own co-ops. And use Northeastern as a tool! Your co-op advisor is there to help you get the right job for you!

4. What co-ops have you done?

For the past six months I have been working as a co-op for the Deshpande Foundation. This is the only co-op I've done so far.

5. Can you tell us more about your current co-op?

Deshpande Foundation was started by Desh and Jaishree Deshpande and its focus is innovation and relevance to have an impact and create social change. A lot of their work revolves around social entrepreneurship. The foundation works both in India and Massachusetts. During my time at Deshpande, I helped to launch their new Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative. Part of my work involved going to meetings with local NGOs and coordinating the kick-off event. My other jobs included helping prepare content for the new website, and keeping up to date with the Deshpande Facebook and Twitter pages. I also worked with promoting their global exchange programs by setting up presentations withuniversities.

6. What would you say about the overall co-op program?

The co-op program gives students the opportunity to practice what they are learning but it's more than that. This generation has been accused of everything from having no attention span because our thoughts are too wrapped up in twitter/FB/texting, etc. to having no ambition and no work ethic. Well, co-op says, "That's not true and we can prove it!" It allows students to see what they can do, do what they have been taught and see if there are places in their education they would like to explore further. It gives students the freedom to explore their options and see what is out there for job opportunities.

7. Did you have any other "learning from outside the classroom" (service learning, student leadership, study abroad, research, or volunteering) that also enriched your time here?

Yes, my second semester Freshman year, I applied to this new program that was starting, at mid-semester, “Dialogue to India.” In fall I started taking classes with Prof. Denise Horn and Prof. Lori Gardinier for a month in Boston and then the whole group went to India for a month and a half. We lived and worked in Hubli, Karnataka which is where the Deshpande Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is. While there our group did service-learning, along with capacity building projects and then did Global Corps, creating a project that would be innovative and have a small but important impact. Going to India is also what introduced me to the Deshpande Foundation and made me want to apply for their co-op in Massachusetts. It was a great experience and I have been able to move forward in this field because of my time in India. Outside of that I have also done Alternative Spring Break and a regular summer Dialogue to Benin. Both were amazing experiences and have been huge helps in getting me to where I am today.