Northeastern students prefer to stay in Boston for co-op


Chris Triunfo, city editor

A majority of Northeastern students choose to stay in Boston during co-op, according to the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Development. For some, it helps with housing. For others, Boston is where they want to be.

Northeastern’s connections to the city are expansive, and according to Michelle Hagopian, the co-op advisor for game design and journalism majors, the program’s success can be partially attributed to the university’s location.

“We have a ton of employers in the city that want to work with us,” Hagopian said. “Boston is a career hub.”

Students seem to agree.

“The amount of connections that a student can find working in this city are unprecedented,” said Zacharie Mega, a second-year politics, philosophy and economics major who is currently on his first co-op at MassInc, a non-profit think tank. “I want to build my career in this city, and the school has so many great connections with companies that will help me do just that.”

Ease of application

Completing a co-op in Boston is a commodity that makes the application and work experiences a bit easier. Joey DeSomma, a second-year communication studies major, said he could not imagine applying to a company anywhere other than Boston.

“The application process is stressful,” he said. “I don’t think I would have been able to jump into my first co-op in another country or state. This is a place I know well and applying to companies closeby gave me comfort.”

DeSomma said his co-op class barely went over the necessary information to work outside of the city.

“The class was general in the knowledge it provided — we never really went into the specifics of working abroad, and the options are pretty limited,” DeSomma said.

DeSomma now works at Iron Mountain, an information management company headquartered in Boston.

Julie Johnson was a transfer student when she accepted her first co-op at Massachusetts General Hospital. She said she chose to work there because she felt pressure from the application process.

“During my co-op search, I was overwhelmed by the number of options to pick from,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure exactly what my goal was or where I wanted to be. I went through only one interview and was offered the job on the spot, so I accepted it out of excitement and eagerness to be done with interviewing.”

According to many advisers, including Hagopian, Boston companies are often quicker in contacting students and have higher networking capabilities thanks to their location. Many, like Hewlett-Packard, host their interviews and info sessions on campus, helping students avoid extensive travel and virtual interviews.

Local partnerships

Most co-ops are created from local alumni and employer relationships with the school, according to Northeastern’s Office of Cooperative Education and Career Development. In fact, many of the co-op opportunities abroad are created by students or faculty who have a prior connection.

“We deliver an individualized approach to building and maintaining partnerships with local companies and alumni that contribute to the employers’ success and ours,” a spokesperson for the office said in a March 14 email to The News. “Our various recruitment options provide employers with cost-effective approaches to hiring, training, evaluating and onboarding talent.”

According to the Northeastern University admissions office, 54 percent of 2016 graduates received a job offer from a previous co-op employer.

The mayor’s office, which takes on multiple co-ops each cycle, said in a March 15 email to The News that Northeastern is a wonderful source of talent.

“Working with Northeastern through the co-op program is a great opportunity for us and for the students alike,” the statement read. “We love getting to see our co-ops learn about Boston through their work with us.”

Johnson said while her choice to work at Mass General was brash, it turned out to be a lesson for her next two co-ops.

“While I was passionate about health care and loved working with patients, I started to question whether nursing was the right career choice to pursue,” Johnson said. “My choice to stay in Boston was a choice that I think many first-time co-op searchers make. It was my first offer, and I took it.”

Comfort close to home

According to the Admissions Office at Northeastern University, about 20 percent of the current freshmen class is from New England, so many students already know the Boston area. Mega said accepting the first offer is typical for nervous students who might feel more comfortable staying in a region they’re familiar with.

“It’s a tough choice to make,” Mega said. “Once you take a job, you’re secure. But you don’t get the chance to entertain any other opportunities.”

Going into their second co-op, students have a better grasp of the application process — the Office of Career Development reports there is a higher rate of international co-ops for students who are on their second round.

Mega said while he loves his current co-op, he’d love to experience another country for his next one.

“I’m fully engulfed in Boston,” Mega said. “Now that I’m familiar with the process, I feel better prepared to get out of the city and work somewhere I’ve never been before.”