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My First Co-op Experience: Remote Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

Ever since I commited to Northeastern University, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the day I would finally get to go on co-op. Unfortunately, my first co-op search process was a pretty stressful experience. 

First of all, I made the mistake of not sending out any applications until the middle of February – which in retrospect was late. I also didn’t have any experience in marketing or communications, which was the field I was looking to secure a job in. I won’t lie; it was pretty demoralizing to see everyone around me secure a co-op while I wasn’t even getting any interviews. But my perseverance finally paid off in July when I was offered a position as the Communications and Development Coordinator for the Forsyth Institute.

The Forsyth Institute is a leading research center for oral health that is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To be honest, I knew next to nothing about dentistry or oral health, but thankfully, that did not inhibit my ability to do my job. The nature of the position also allowed me to work fully remote, and I decided to take this opportunity to save money on housing. Not to mention, it also would have been difficult to find good housing on such short notice. Thus, I worked from my home in Pennsylvania for the entire duration of my co-op.

There are both pros and cons to working remotely. For me, the biggest positive was how much autonomy I had. In a typical work week, I had one check-in meeting with my supervisor at 10 am every Tuesday where she gave me a list of tasks to complete for the week. Afterwards, I could work on my tasks at whatever time was the most convenient for me as long as I finished them by the due date. I was very happy with this arrangement as a night owl because it meant I could stay up late and sleep in until noon almost every day. In addition, my weekly tasks rarely took more than two to three hours to complete, so I had the rest of the week free to do whatever I wanted while still getting paid full time. If I had worked in-person, I would most likely have been forced to sit at a desk while struggling to pass time.

However, there were still a few downsides to being completely remote. The biggest negative was not getting to meet anyone at Forsyth in person. This made me feel like I was never really a part of the company culture. I’ve also realized that working from home kills my motivation and productivity levels. Because I was basically lounging around on the couch all day, I had absolutely no desire to start my tasks until the last possible minute. I think being in-person would have motivated me to work more diligently and complete my tasks much quicker. Additionally, it was pretty lonely being at home all the time while all of my friends were on campus.

Overall, I would still say that my first co-op experience was more positive than negative. My direct supervisor was very supportive, and she was even kind enough to write me a LinkedIn recommendation that I honestly do not feel I deserve. That being said, I am definitely planning on staying in Boston for my second co-op. A hybrid situation would be ideal so that I can get the best of both worlds, but ultimately, my goal this time is just to have some in-person work experience.

Jovanne Li

Northeastern '23

Jovanne is a 4th year student studying business and communications at Northeastern University. In her free time, she likes to listen to music and read an unhealthy amount of fanfiction. She also loves boba, thrifting, and trying new restaurants in Boston.