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Why they loved their global co-ops

Earlier this semester, students flocked to the Curry Student Center indoor quad for the spring 2015 international co-op fair, where their peers discussed their recent co-op experiences. Here, five of those student presenters describe their experiential learning opportunities abroad and what made those experiences so meaningful.

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Darius Williams, DMSB/AMD’16, a fourth-year business administration and innovative media major, worked at the Prague, Czech Republic, office of Young & Rubicam Prague, a global marketing firm with offices in 90 countries. While on co-op from June to December 2014, he worked as a creative intern whose many responsibilities included illustration, research, and photography, as well as video editing, copy editing, and helping brands develop a strong presence through print, digital, interactive media, and social media marketing.

One campaign he worked on for a local brewery was called “Tale Worth Telling,” for which the business connected with people to hear their personal stories about overcoming fears or obstacles in their personal or professional lives. He said the co-op showed him the importance of creating a brand identity that is true, creative, and not forced.

“This is what keeps me motivated and interested in the marketing and branding field,” he said.

Gemma Bonfiglioli, SSH’17, a third-year international affairs and human services major, developed her first co-op at Vision of Hope, a nonprofit in Zambia founded in 2009 to address HIV/AIDS prevention, personal hygiene, and reproductive health with young girls in crisis in that country. Her work included creating fundraising videos, participating in outreach programs, and even taking severely ill children to the hospital.

“This co-op experience opened my eyes to the challenges and joys in the life of a social worker,” said Bonfiglioli, who also enjoyed immersing herself in the Zambian culture while on co-op. “This kind of direct service work can become very emotionally draining but at the same time can also be a blessing, having the opportunity to work with beautiful people.”

Kartikeya Ladha, DMSB’16, a fourth-year student in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, worked on co-op as an assistant director for a UNISEF project that involved shooting educational TV shows for Coastal TV in Ghana. He helped scout locations, cast actors, and assist with editing. Ladha’s major concentration is in management and entrepreneurship, and he chose this co-op because of his love for filmmaking and his desire to open a production house one day.

“I wanted to experience a completely different culture and go out of my comfort zone,” he added.

Check out Kart’s submission for the Coolest Co-op Video Competition:

Kathryna A. Clarke, E’15, a fifth-year civil engineering major, worked on co-op in Panama last year for the Panama Canal Authority. Specifically, she assisted on a number of the authority’s environmental division’s projects, performing environmental inspections and environmental site assessments for potential construction projects for the Panama Canal. She also provided environmental service costing for remediation and cleanup projects. One project she led focused on the design and cost estimations of three rainwater harvesting systems as part of an outreach proposal to benefit rural elementary schools within the Panama Canal watershed.

“My professional goal is to provide water infrastructure to underserved communities worldwide and I definitely think my international co-op helped cement that idea for me,” Clarke said.

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Ishti Saluja, SSH’15, a fifth-year international affairs major, worked on co-op in London at the British American Security Information Council, or BASIC. She updated BASIC’s social media outlets with ongoing developments in the world of nuclear disarmament and helped research and author four articles published on BASIC’s blog.

“This co-op provided me with a preview of how think tanks work,” said Saluja, who hopes to work for one someday. “My two supervisors were fantastic. They always encouraged me to get involved in any project I wanted and welcomed new ideas. They made me feel like a significant part of BASIC.”

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