Fifth-​​year stu­dent Drew D’Agostino spent his co-​​op last year in Cameroon working for Jola Ven­ture Inc., a social enter­prise founded at North­eastern that helps farmers be more pro­duc­tive and prof­itable though low-​​cost tech­nolo­gies and edu­ca­tion. He per­formed market research about African farmers’ busi­nesses and the ben­e­fits of food preser­va­tion. His co-​​op also focused on helping to launch Solpod, a solar-​​powered food dehy­drator devel­oped by North­eastern engi­neering stu­dents as a cap­stone project.

Through his experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­nity, D’Agostino said he real­ized the food preser­va­tion prob­lems for farmers make for volatile food mar­kets. He noted that this lesson also pro­vided a greater overall per­spec­tive on global business.

Dif­ferent mar­kets have very dif­ferent prob­lems, and you can dis­cover new busi­nesses and oppor­tu­ni­ties by get­ting out of your com­fort zone,” he said. “When you spend your whole life in the same market, or the same country, you are only aware of the prob­lems right in front of you.”

This week, it was announced that D’Agostino took first place in the 2013 Coolest Co-​​op Video Con­test, an annual event run by the Office of Stu­dent Affairs. Second place went to Jackie Rapetti, who worked at NBC Nightly News. Third place went to Ducky Visut­thithada, who worked on co-​​op in Naperville, Ill., at Gexpro, a global elec­trical distributor.

Watch the videos:
FIRST PLACE     SECOND PLACE     THIRD PLACE

On elec­tion night, Rapetti was sta­tioned in the con­trol room at NBC Nightly News head­quar­ters in New York City as reporters and pro­ducers sur­veyed the state and national elec­tion results pouring in and forged ahead with the program’s news cov­erage. It was a night she’ll never forget—one of many from her co-​​op expe­ri­ence that pro­vided her an up-​​close look at how a TV news pro­gram comes to life.

It was incred­ible to work in that envi­ron­ment,” Rapetti said. “I had no idea how much effort goes into pro­ducing a show like this. I learned so much about every­thing that goes on behind the scenes.”

Jackie Rapetti worked on co-​​op last year at NBC Nightly News in New York. Photo cour­tesy of Jackie Rapetti.

Her July-​​to-​​December co-​​op over­lapped with sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant news events, including the Summer Olympics and the fiscal cliff crisis. During that time, Rapetti worked along­side pro­ducers to assemble the program’s daily news cov­erage by log­ging video­tapes, assisting on shoots in Times Square, and even serving as an extra on one seg­ment. The expe­ri­ence, she said, con­vinced her that she wants to ulti­mately work behind the scenes in TV news production.

It opened my eyes to all the pos­si­bil­i­ties avail­able in broad­cast jour­nalism,” said Rapetti, whose pas­sion for the news industry began in ele­men­tary school when she would tune into news pro­grams as her friends were glued to morning cartoons.

For her part, Visutthithada’s co-​​op also pro­vided a global per­spec­tive. Her work involved working with ven­dors and making sure parts were deliv­ered on time, keeping tabs on inven­tory levels, preparing paper­work for imports and exports, and even per­forming market research for the company.

Orig­i­nally from Thai­land, Visut­thithada is majoring in busi­ness with a con­cen­tra­tion in mar­keting and entre­pre­neur­ship. She said her co-​​op pro­vided a strong under­standing of how a large com­pany oper­ates and taught her a valu­able skill: patience.

The com­pany has its own ware­house man­age­ment system, and it took me awhile to get every­thing down. It was a big learning curve, and there were times early on when I was frus­trated. But one day it just clicked,” she said.

Ducky Visut­thithada (right), who worked on co-​​op in Naperville, Ill., at Gexpro, a global elec­trical dis­trib­utor, took third place in the 2013 Coolest Co-​​op Video Con­test. Photo cour­tesy of Ducky Visutthithada.

Visut­thithada hopes that skill will help her in the future, per­haps in launching her own busi­ness one day. She comes from a family of entre­pre­neurs and is now par­tic­i­pating in the Entre­pre­neurs Club’s Husky Startup Chal­lenge, a semester-​​long com­pe­ti­tion that helps stu­dents for­mu­late a struc­ture and busi­ness plan to turn ideas into suc­cessful companies.