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The key to a well-rounded college career is having a combination of experiential education and academic studies. Having the opportunity to dapple into your field of study one year into college is an experience not offered to most students. It allows the student a chance to grow up and join the real world, for six-months at a time. Northeastern University, in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, offers just that to all of its undergraduate students. Northeastern University is ranked number one in co-ops by the Princeton Review, and offers a six-month long internship program every year.
The Mission of the Division of Cooperative Education may be expressed in three parts:
1. To cultivate and maintain the position of Northeastern University as a national and international leader in Career Services and Cooperative Education
2. To provide comprehensive career planning services that support all members of the Northeastern University community in identifying, planning, and implementing sound career decisions
3. To provide Northeastern University students with cooperative educational experiences that have a significant impact on their professional lives.
Most Northeastern students take advantage of the unique five-year program and use their six-months to experience more than just a new job. Every year, more students are finding co-ops outside of the metropolitan Boston area.
Mike Hourihan is a 23-year-old finance major from Boston and can't say enough about the co-op program.
"I worked for Merrill Lynch in San Francisco. The job itself taught me a lot about the finance industry. Merrill Lynch will look great on my resume' and the experience I gained is more than you can learn in the classroom," said Hourihan. "The people in the company were great and I got to sit with sales people and brokers on several occasions. The job taught me how trades settle and how to deal with different types of wealthy customers."
The Silicon Valley and Bay Area of California is home to a plethora of businesses and companies that attract people from all over the globe. To leave school for six-months and work in your field of choice is only part of what Northeastern students gain when they take the opportunity to work across the country.
Doreen Hodgkin, Senior Associate Dean for Administration at Northeastern manages a bulk of the co-op paperwork. "The students who leave the area to work have so much more to offer their employers in the workplace because of personal experiences," said Hodgkin.
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Most students choose Northeastern over others because upon graduating, you have a resume with twoyears of experience in your field of study as well as the practical knowledge that employers are looking for.
The six-month co-op program is unique to Northeastern University. Most Universities offer three -month long summer internships or an opportunity to work in their field of study after their junior year.
Nearly 71 percent of Northeastern graduates obtain permanent employment through one of their co-op employers or as a result of on-campus recruiting. Each year Northeastern more than 7,300 students go on to work for more than 2,200 employees all over the world.
The co-op program is also a cost effective way for the employers because they don't have to pay benefits fees for the students. Also, the students coming from the New England area to work in California offer their employers a more diverse and multicultural employee.
Kenneth Cheung of Hong Kong is an Electrical Engineering major who took advantage of the opportunity that Northeastern offers. For the fall semester of this year, he's been working in Sunnyvale, CA for eLCOS Microdisplay Technology, Inc. eLCOS Microdisplay Technology is a developer of microdisplay technology. eLCOS is dedicated to the design, manufacture, and marketing of liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) microdisplay devices for television and projectors.
"In general, I like the NU Coop system because there are so many things you can't learn at school, and working as an intern gives you an opportunity to learn from experienced co-workers in your field," said Cheung.
Northeastern University's Co-op Program is the undisputed leader in its field, placing about 8,700 students each year with more than 3,000 co-op employers in Boston, across the United States, in many corners of the world. It offers co-ops to virtually every undergraduate area of study, from Electrical Engineering to Art.
Companies such as Apple in Cupertino, Cisco Systems in San Jose, Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, and Sun Microsystems in Sunnyvale have contacts with the co-op department at Northeastern and have taken on students for their 6-month long work period. The Silicon Valley and Bay Area offer so much to students of all majors because of its diverse business atmosphere, but appeals more to students studying electrical and mechanical engineering, finance and business.
To do a co-op in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley or anywhere away from home can be costly. Not all internships are paid, and the University does not offer housing for the students who leave the Boston area. Many students choose to do co-ops near campus or their homes because the cost of living can be too much for a student to handle. The housing in areas near and around San Jose and San Francisco are some of the highest in the nation. A one-bedroom apartment in San Jose can cost anywhere from $600 to $1200 and higher a month. There are areas surrounding the city that are less expensive, but the Bay Area doesn't offer a subway system for easy travel to and from work. The student would need to have some sort of transportation arranged, which is another cost to add to the list. Cheung was able to live with his Aunt in Sunnyvale while working for eLCOS, so he didn't have to worry about finding a place to live, but others do.
"Co-oping in San Francisco at FAB Logistics was an awesome experience for me," said Mary-Sharon Owens, 22, '03 graduate of Northeastern. "The hardest part about my experience was finding a place to stay. Housing in the Bay Area was outrageously expensive and hard to find. The place I found was close to my work but cost over 3/4 my paycheck every month just for rent. Bills were a completely different issue."
"The advantages [of co-op] are significant. Most students graduate from Northeastern with a resume with three jobs and two years combined experience in their field. These jobs are with top companies and are good jobs," said Ed Klotzbier, Vice President of Student Affairs and Director of University Communications at Northeastern University. "The kids who graduate are generally more mature than those who graduate from other institutions without the internship opportunity."
Roger Grace graduated Northeastern University in 1966 and now works as a marketing consultant at Roger Grace & Associates in San Francisco and an adjunct at UC Berkley. Roger Grace & Associates was founded in 1982 and focuses mainly on semiconductors, sensors, Microsystems, and semiconductor capital equipment. His company works in strategic marketing, market research, product planning, branding, and company positioning. His experiences with the co-op program shaped him as a businessman. Today, he lives in Pacific Grove, CA and has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 30 years.
"Co-op was a magical experience for me. For my first co-op, I was fortunate enough to work at Avco Missile Systems. The job environment had me working in small groups of Northeastern alumni and students. Everyone was thankful for Avco. They took care of us," said Grace. "I had the highest job offer of any graduating senior at that time at Northeastern at Avco. It was an invaluable experience."
The president and CEO of Integrated Device Technology in Santa Clara and Chairman of Optimal Corporation in San Jose, Len Pernham, graduated Northeastern with a BA in Electrical Engineering in 1968. Optimal is a leading provider of signal integrity electronic design automation software. Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (IDT) is an international designer, manufacturer and marketer of microprocessors and integrated circuits for a range of high-growth markets, including desktop computer, graphics/visualization, data communications and office automation. IDT offers products from four key areas: high-speed SRAMs, RISC microprocessors, specialty memories, and high-performance logic.
"Northeastern was a perfect answer in my life at the time. In 1968, when I was in college, electrical engineering wasn't as prominent a field as it is today. To work in the semiconductor industry, like I do now, required me to go outside of school and gain the knowledge elsewhere. Co-op made the possible," said Perham.
In addition to Optimal, Mr. Perham is chairman of the board for ASAT, a Hong Kong-based provider of IC package design, assembly and test services and for NetLogic Microsystems, a California-based provider of world-class network packet classification and forwarding solutions. Mr. Perham is also a member of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group.
Other well known businesses in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area are run and headed by Northeastern Alumni: George Papa, class of '71, is the Senior Vice President of Global Sales at the Altera Corporation in San Jose, David House, class of '69, is the Chief Executive Officer of Allegro Networks in San Jose, Robert Garnick PhD, class of 1977, is the Senior V.P. of Quality at Genentech in S. San Francisco, Shawn Fanning founded Napster in 1999, and is now a consultant for the internet site Roxio, and Steven McGowan, class of '71, is the Executive Vice President & CFO of Sun Microsystems in Mountain View.
This specialized program doesn't come without a price. To take part in all that co-op has to offer, students sign onto a 5-year program instead of the typical 4-year. Northeastern isn't cheap either. A breakdown of tuition and fees at the University can be found on the Northeastern website, www.neu.edu. Freshman year will cost a student $35, 356, and $17,728 per semester for the next 4 years.
Why are students attending Northeastern University in Boston going abroad for co-op and for their careers? The point is that this University gives students the opportunity to dapple into their interests long before graduation. Students have the chance to see whether their major is something they actually enjoy. Sometimes classes and lectures aren't enough. Students need practical experience to discover what they enjoy, what they are good at, and what their weaknesses are. This University provides this and encourages each and every student to experience it. The Northeastern Alumni above took advantage of the co-op program and had more experience and a fuller resume than other graduates from other colleges. Northeastern students graduate with more than 2 years of practical experience in their field of choice. They have the chance to go into a business and be handed a higher paying job than someone the same age because they already know what they are getting into. "None of this would have been possible without the co-op program," said Perham.