Int’l Co-op regroups, moves forward

Int’l Co-op regroups, moves forward

By John Guilfoil

Less than a year after the sudden departure of its director, the International Co-op Program is preparing for a fresh start – with a veteran administrator at the helm and an early interest list of nearly 60 students.

More than a dozen students, including junior political science major Andrew Regenstreich, had not secured spring international employment by last November.

“I had an idea that something wasn’t quite right because there weren’t any follow-ups,” Regenstreich told The News at the time.

As a way of drawing participants to its international offerings early on, the Division of Cooperative Education has held a series of meetings in recent weeks to discuss the restructuring of the program and how students can begin to prepare for an international experience.

Nine students attended a July 12 session, including junior business major Grant Oberg and Student Government Association Vice President for Academic Affairs MJ Paradiso, who was attending in both an official capacity and as a student interested in working abroad.

“They seem to be really devoted to helping the students be successful,” Oberg said.

That is a far cry from where the program stood last fall – when it “almost went down the tubes,” as one of the program’s representatives said at the meeting.

Much of the blame for the program’s disarray was placed on Elizabeth Cameron, who formerly served as its director until taking an unannounced medical leave, only to eventually resign from her post in February.

Despite the past, counselor Cynthia Sweet said the program still holds significance for students in gaining international experience during college.

“American students are lagging big time in terms of international experience, language and cultural understanding,” she said. “Many students make the mistake of thinking that most countries speak English.”

Throughout the meeting, Sweet emphasized the importance of prior language education before working abroad.

In addition to English-speaking countries like England, Ireland and Australia, Northeastern has developed co-ops in India, Nigeria, China and Japan.

Sweet said one of the program’s focuses has been to create jobs that “offer a rich global cultural experience.”

This year, officials at the International Co-op Program hope to prevent a repeat of the past – part of which has been accomplished, Sweet said, by improving interdepartmental communication.

“We have undertaken aggressive job development activities that have included close collaboration with our colleagues throughout the university, including alumni relations, advancement, academic faculty, the office of international initiatives and corporate partnerships,” Sweet said.

As a result, more international positions have been offered and all jobs are now available to browse on the myNEU COOL system. Sweet said these developments have generated more student interest.

“It is a genuine team effort,” Sweet said.

Ketty Rosenfeld, originally hired in 1994 to assist international students who sought co-op opportunities, filled the void left by Cameron following her unexpected departure and began work to secure jobs for the interested students.

She joined career services in 2001 and continued to work with international students and those seeking international experiences.

For students like Regenstreich, Rosenfeld’s promotion brought immediate improvement.

“Cynthia and Ketty really worked to secure jobs for everyone,” said Regenstreich, who managed to land an international co-op at the United States Embassy in England.

Sweet said communication improved and things started to get better when Cameron’s departure was made official and Rosenfeld took charge of the process.

For Paradiso, Rosenfeld brings much-needed experience to rebuilding the international co-op program.

“[Rosenfeld] brings an incredible enthusiasm to the position,” Paradiso said.

Rosenfeld has been working toward increasing the international positions offered and accommodating students of all majors, he said.

Her familiarity with different departments and established connections to international alumni have helped the program in achieving its goals for the fall.

“Alumni in general are an asset to our university in many ways,” Rosenfeld said in an e-mail. “Those that did experience co-op during their studies at NU are our ambassadors to promote co-op to universities and industries in their home countries.”

According to Rosenfeld, immediate goals for the program include continued collaboration with Northeastern departments and encouraging language education for students interested in international experiences.

As a result, students like Andrew Regenstreich were able to work abroad and gain an invaluable college experience.

“It was about as good an experience as I’ve ever had,” he said.

– News Staff writer Ricky Thompson contributed to this report.

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