Jump into a job at a TV giant’s London office? Or one at the world’s largest pri­vate edu­ca­tion com­pany, in Lucerne, Switzer­land? How about one at a swanky hotel in Granada, Spain?

Thanks to Northeastern’s inter­na­tional co-​​op pro­gram, stu­dents have been able to make these choices, and more. Over the past three years alone, nearly 450 stu­dents have pur­sued inter­na­tional learning oppor­tu­ni­ties, working in more than 40 coun­tries for a broad range of orga­ni­za­tions devoted to finance, health care, edu­ca­tion, and many other fields.

Stu­dents say working and living in a for­eign country increases their global aware­ness, exposes them to a plethora of new cul­tures and serves as a launching pad for their careers.

But inter­na­tional co-​​op employers ben­efit from stu­dents’ exper­tise as well. They describe North­eastern co-​​ops as intel­li­gent, driven and self-​​sufficient, and praise the quick­ness with which they adapt to the global work environment.

Take Turner Broad­casting System (TBS)—home to pop­ular cable news and enter­tain­ment net­works CNN, Turner Classic Movies and TNT—which in three years has hired five North­eastern stu­dents in its London office. The co-​​ops worked as pro­gram­ming coor­di­na­tors for the Nordic region, trans­mit­ting broad­casts to Sweden, Den­mark, Norway, Fin­land and Iceland.

Step­ping into a job at one of the world’s largest multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions doesn’t seem to intim­i­date the co-​​ops, says Nicholas Hadley-​​Kamptz, senior pro­gram­ming and con­tent man­ager at TBS.

They’re thrown in the deep end,” he explains. And they’re without a ready-​​made sup­port net­work. “Not many stu­dents have any ini­tial con­tacts here.”

Yet Hadley-​​Kamptz is impressed by the co-​​ops’ enthu­siasm and capacity to adjust quickly to a fast-​​paced, highly social work envi­ron­ment, made up of an eclectic mix of Eastern Euro­peans, Africans, Scan­di­na­vians, Cana­dians and Americans.

Every co-​​op has brought an open mind and an adapt­ability,” he says. “They’ve learned to mul­ti­task and deal with many dif­ferent needs and require­ments from a mul­ti­tude of sources.”

Acknowl­edging the inex­tri­cable link between co-​​op and the overall aca­d­emic expe­ri­ence at North­eastern, Hadley says he prizes the university’s co-​​ops highly. “They bring a lot more to the table than per­haps some other interns would,” he says. “It’s quite impor­tant that they can stay for six months, too. We rely on that because, with local interns, it is not guaranteed.”

More than 600 miles away, in Lucerne, Switzer­land, North­eastern co-​​ops are breaking down cul­tural bar­riers by helping people of all ages become more active global citizens.

At EF Edu­ca­tion First, a world leader in inter­na­tional edu­ca­tion, employees con­nect cus­tomers with language-​​learning, educational-​​travel, cultural-​​exchange and aca­d­emic pro­grams. Co-​​ops work in the company’s Go Ahead Tours branch, arranging trans­porta­tion, accom­mo­da­tions and sight­seeing tours for Amer­i­cans inter­ested in inter­na­tional travel.

The Lucerne office man­ager, Evan­ge­line Frey, applauds the con­tri­bu­tions of co-​​op stu­dent Nathaniel Le Treize, a junior man­age­ment major who is focusing on tours in France, Greece, Turkey and England.

It’s not easy for a col­lege stu­dent to be thrown into the busi­ness world abroad,” Frey says. “Having him as the only native Eng­lish speaker in the office is valu­able for us because Eng­lish is our busi­ness lan­guage. The skills he learned in school, espe­cially his writing skills, have been very ben­e­fi­cial to the team. He’s very flex­ible, and his atten­tion to detail has been impor­tant because he has a lot to keep track of.”

Treize, who was born in France but grew up in the United States, says the EF Edu­ca­tion First work­place is akin to a melting pot. “I’m sit­ting across from a French person and col­leagues from Italy, Mexico and Bul­garia,” he noted during a recent phone inter­view. “Doing a co-​​op abroad def­i­nitely gives me a chance to see cul­tures from a dif­ferent per­spec­tive. I am pretty sure I’d like to work abroad after I graduate.”

Andrea Martin Targa, BA’07, did go abroad to work after earning her inter­na­tional busi­ness degree. She became the vice pres­i­dent of sales and mar­keting at Hotel Salo­brena, a family-​​run busi­ness in Granada, Spain. Now Targa her­self actively recruits North­eastern co-​​op stu­dents to help plan and coor­di­nate events held in and around the 194-​​bedroom hotel.

In addi­tion, many of the Hotel Salo­brena co-​​ops knowl­edge­able in both com­mu­ni­ca­tions and inter­na­tional busi­ness help create print and radio mar­keting strate­gies for the hotel’s large new con­ven­tion center.

All the stu­dents have been really involved with the projects and are very well pre­pared,” Targa says. “They’ve adapted to the lan­guage and cul­ture really quickly.”

One dif­fer­ence between the work envi­ron­ment in Spain and the United States is the pace at which employees con­duct them­selves, she says. Amer­ican stu­dents have to adjust to Spain’s slower, more relaxed work­place and emphasis on building per­sonal rela­tion­ships before dis­cussing busi­ness needs.

But that’s no obstacle for the North­eastern co-​​ops, says Targa. “Stu­dents have a great atti­tude toward learning and, if I tell them to do some­thing, they do it,” she reports.

Stu­dents who excel at their inter­na­tional co-​​ops fre­quently take a full-​​time job with their employer after graduation.

Mike Mahoney, BA’09, did. In his co-​​op posi­tion as a tran­si­tion man­age­ment ana­lyst at State Street in London from Jan­uary to June 2008, the finance and man­age­ment major worked closely with equity, fixed-​​income and foreign-​​exchange traders, and helped clients transfer stocks and bonds—sometimes in dif­ferent currencies—to new account managers.

After grad­u­ating in May, Mahoney entered a year­long rota­tional pro­gram at State Street Global Mar­kets, the company’s investment-​​research and trading arm. The job may even­tu­ally take him to Sydney or Tokyo. For now, he’s working in State Street’s Boston office.

His co-​​op was the key. “Working in London,” he says, “gave me a new view of how inter­con­nected our world economies are. It made me more com­fort­able in more diverse sur­round­ings and height­ened my learning curve.”

State Street’s London office hires a North­eastern co-​​op every six months to fill its tran­si­tion man­age­ment ana­lyst role, notes Amy Slowe, the firm’s global director of pro­fes­sional development.

We’re get­ting great talent through the doors to help run our busi­ness,” she says.

And the co-​​ops are accel­er­ating their career prospects. Says Slowe, “Stu­dents are gaining real-​​life work expe­ri­ence and the chance to take theory and apply it in a prac­tical appli­ca­tion.” This oppor­tu­nity, she explains, allows them “to learn the busi­ness” while they’re still in school.