Living and Working in “The Emerald City”

City Spot Seattle

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.