History major Evan Shafer on promoting the West Coast arts scene

“I wasn’t just stationed behind a desk. My team was always on the city’s pulse.”


When I came out to Seattle for my first co-op this past spring, all I knew was that it was a real hot spot for art and innovation. Now, after a six-month immersive co-op in the heart of downtown, I know more about Seattle than I do about Boston or my hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio.

This deep knowledge wasn’t just handy for exploring new neighborhoods on my downtime; it was essential to succeeding in my position.

As a communications intern with the city’s Office of Economic Development and its Office of Film + Music, I was part of a core team responsible for sharing the latest happenings—from music and film festivals to new restaurants, workforce development programs, and industry networking events—with more than 19,000 artists, businesses, government officials, and citizens citywide.

Coupling writing skills I honed in class with tons of on-the-job learning, my daily responsibilities included creating newsletters and doing social media marketing to promote “hidden-gem” shops and cultural events, as well as drafting press releases for the mayor.

But I wasn’t just stationed behind a desk. My team was always on the city’s pulse, so I attended all kinds of fascinating, high-profile events, such as opening night for the Seattle International Film festival, a meeting of the Seattle Music Commission, monthly networking sessions for creative industry professionals, the launch of Startup Seattle—an initiative to help the city become a greater hub for startup enterprises—and even the opening of Northeastern’s graduate campus in Seattle.

I also was invited to sit in on several city-planning meetings, including a public hearing about building an NBA arena in the area. I never would have known about these discussions had I not been plugged in from my job, and I was surprised at how much participating in the meetings resonated with me. The meetings were like history classes in action, and they opened up a whole new opportunity for me.

Now, thanks to just one co-op, I’m not only considering administrative arts as a career path, such as working in museums or galleries in Boston, I’m also thinking about pursuing Northeastern’s master’s in public administration program, right here on the graduate campus in Seattle.

Evan Shafer, SSH’14, is a history major with a minor in art history. He recently completed a research project with history professor Tom Havens on Japanese woodblock prints.