On Thursday, Matt Bilotti, DMSB’15, leaves Boston’s Logan Airport for Heathrow Airport in London, England—the site of his first stop in his new role as one of President Joseph E. Aoun’s first two student ambassadors, the Global Officers. The Staten Island, New York, native will visit 10 cities in nine countries and on two continents during the first three months of his journey, meeting with students, alumni, parents, co-op employers, and startup heads, all of whom are global entrepreneurial leaders. Here, he shares what he’s looking forward to, anxious for, and the priceless advice he’s received.
What part of the Global Officer experience are you most looking forward to?
I’m most looking forward to the conversations I’ll have and the relationships those conversations will forge. Throughout my travels, I’m going to hear hundreds of unique stories and I’ll be approaching every conversation through a lens of discovery to uncover where there might be untapped partnership and co-op opportunities. Ultimately, the rewards will come in the long term. One of the most rewarding things I can hope for is to look back five, 10, or 20 years from now and see successes arising from the conversations I had and the connections I facilitated with leaders back on campus. Even if I inspire just a few students on campus to take advantage of global opportunities during their time at Northeastern, and those opportunities change their careers and life paths, it will have been well worth it for me.
What do you expect your first few days to look like?
The first day will be a designated acclimation day. I’ll take my first day in London to familiarize myself with where I’ll be staying and let it sink in that I am now on my own for the next six months and the journey has begun. For the second day, I have already planned a visit to Eton College, outside of London, where I’ll meet with its top entrepreneurial student leaders. That evening, I’ll head back into the city for a Northeastern Young Global Leaders dinner, which will give me a great chance to meet and network with Northeastern alumni who are already living in London. The rest of the first week is already lined up with a few meetings per day, so I’ll pretty much hit the ground running from there.
Is there anything special you’re taking with you?
There are a few special things I’m taking with me. When you’re condensing your life into a suitcase, it’s funny to see what takes priority. Listening to music is a passion of mine, so my Sennheiser and Bose headphones are absolute musts for flights, down time, and days when I’m getting work done in cafes. In order to make my constantly changing rooms feel like home, I packed my oil diffuser and some essential oils. A DSLR camera was a must; thank you to Bruce at the campus photo lab for renting me one. I also made sure to pack up my copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, which is a book I read the year before college that fundamentally changed the way I approach people and opened up the world for me. The copy of the old book acts as a handbook for me now, packed with highlighted text and scribbled notes. Lastly, with super long flights and ever-changing time zones ahead, I made sure to pack my blindfold and earplugs so that I can get some peaceful sleep no matter where I am.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
The fact that I’ll be amidst a sea of ever-changing strangers will be the biggest challenge. When somebody does a typical study abroad or travels for work, he or she is either in a group or has some sort of support system: office colleagues, fellow students, or other travel buddies. As Global Officer, I’ll spend no more than three consecutive weeks in a single city, which means I can’t make any long-term friends. Each new city will offer a unique challenge of identifying the cultural norms, finding people to connect with, and finding ways to kick any loneliness that may set in. I’m glad Northeastern already has a global community, because I have a feeling that students and alumni are going to become my super-short-term best friends and significantly impact my experience.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received while preparing for your co-op?
Joe Case, a talented videographer in University Advancement, said that I should take 60 seconds at the end of each day to record a quick video clip of how the day went and how I’m feeling. The audience is one—namely, me—and the goal is to create something that I can actually look back on to relive my entire experience. The key, he said, is to keep it to exactly 60 seconds to constrain myself to only the most important emotions, details, challenges, and successes of the day. When wrapped up in non-stop meetings and quick-paced travel, having some consistency will give me an outlet to decompress and reflect on each day as it passes.
Other than that, my family, friends, and former colleagues have told me to be sure I take some time for myself. If I never step away from my meetings and my computer screen, I might let the whole world pass me by in six months, wishing I looked around more to soak it all in.