1. Why did you choose Northeastern University?
I’m from Bulgaria originally, I moved to the States during my freshman year of high school which was in Brookline. I didn’t really want to move anywhere far away, so I applied and got into both Boston University and Northeastern. The main reason I chose NEU was because of the co-op opportunities, the opportunity to have work experience was too much to pass up. Honestly it’s been nothing but the best experience so far, I’m so happy I picked NEU, sorry BU! The international aspect of the co-op program is incredible as well, its just something that you can’t do elsewhere; you really can just do anything you want here! My friend and I always talk about how if we haven’t had the opportunity to do co-ops we would be so far from knowing what we would want to do after graduation. I love how the campus is integrated into the city as well!
2. Why did you choose your major, and are you happy with your choice?
I chose to be an International Affairs/Economics major for many reasons, but moving from Bulgaria to the States gave me the dream of working internationally. My parents have a multi-national advertising agency so I’ve been exposed to that field from a young age. The major also is one of the most interesting topics to me, especially with the world today; what I’ve learned from it has made be a better citizen of the world. With globalization becoming so ever-present I think that International Affairs as a major is the perfect choice for today’s world. The classes that I’ve taken, although I knew a lot about events and history before, have made me actually form an opinion and given me the background to know what to do about it. My favorite class has been Social Entrepreneurship which is a popular class, it overlaps exactly with what the idea of International Affairs is, especially pertaining to development. While a lot of Intl. Affairs is theoretical, its nice to have a class where it is actually practical and very “real world”.
3. What are some of the co-ops within International Affairs/Economics that you’ve been interested in?
When I was looking into co-ops in Boston, I always thought the non-profits were interesting, for example Root Cause or Root. And internationally of course, big names like the World Bank, UN and NATO have crossed my mind and I think would be an amazing opportunity for so many students. But today I’m happy with what I chose; if someone told me today the co-ops I would have done I would be so surprised! I do think that an international co-op should be a requirement, the experience is so different than studying abroad where you are probably just partying and have fun with other Americans, whereas a co-op integrates you with the culture, business and otherwise of that country.
4. What are the previous co-ops that you have been on?
I’ve done two co-ops. The first was at EF education in the high school year abroad department. I was an intern for two managers in the counseling department, dealing with foreign kids in the US having problems and trying to resolve and deal with cases. I also did a lot of administrative work.
My second co-op was at Bus2Alps in Italy where I worked as a marketing and sales intern, and they later promoted me to specialist. I did a lot of other extra jobs as well.
5. Can you talk more about your most recent co-op at Bus2Alps?
My most recent co-op was at Bus2Alps in Florence, Italy. It’s one of the biggest upcoming travel companies in Europe for American and international students. Its based in Switzerland but has field offices in Prague, Rome and Florence. It’s a smaller company, with about 20 people in the Florence office, so I developed a relationship with my CEO and other upper level employees. I started out in marketing and sales, which was fun as I’ve had previous experience. I then became a specialist, with more responsibility including training the new interns. Basically I taught them how to do day-to-day responsibilities.
The Sales part of the job included social media, sales, events, and other marketing/sales activities. Sales were usually at organized events so face to face, but it was very flexible.
Another part was Operations, every weekend there were multiple trips all around Europe, and as a guide you had to organize everything and as trip leader be the ultimate responsibility on the trip. Organizing a trip for 200 students was incredibly challenging but fun. A lot of it was office work, a “real” co-op in a sense. I became very familiar with all parts of the company and it was very rewarding to be in that position.
The third part was the actual trip part, being a guide or trip leader. It was cool but also hard, because the students were my age so you had to be their friend but also be responsible. I had to be a guide in places where I had never been before, especially around the UK. It certainly made me so much more confident, it was awesome because I wasn’t sure beforehand but now I can feel like I can do anything.
I also helped with some accounting and financial work because I wanted to incorporate Economics somehow!
Sorry if I talked too much!
6. Is there any story from your time in Italy that you could share with us?
This sounds kind of stupid, but I felt really awesome with myself afterwards! Before Italy I tried to learn some Italian, but I progressed quickly once I started living in the country. After the co-op I was proficient, but before that I was on a trip with my co-workers in which none of us spoke Italian. We were supposed to lead the students but kind of lost ourselves in a sense. So we were clueless and I had to go up to some strangers on the street and talk to them in my broken Italian and try to find out where we were and where to go. It felt really amazing to actually have to use the language I was learning and actually be able to utilize it to accomplish something!
7. What plans do you have for your next co-op?
So for my next co-op, which I made while I was in Italy is at the British Institute of Florence. I discovered through some connections I made while working at Bus2Alps. I’m really excited because its in the same sphere as my previous co-op, in terms of students and education. I’ll be developing a lot of cultural events and doing some marketing as well as being assistant to the administrator. It will be great to communicate with students from the side of an educational institute as opposed to a private company. If it hadn’t been for my last co-op I might not have been interested in the realm of education, so I’m really grateful for that experience. I love interacting and working with people from other cultures so this job should be rewarding. It was really easy to self-develop as well, so if you have a place or a company you want to work in you should definitely go for it!