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Students, employers tout co-op at career fair

Northeastern’s signature co-op program drew more than 2,600 young job seekers and 220 employers to the university’s biannual career fair, where students landed full time positions and recruiters praised Northeastern’s experiential learning model.

The event was held Thursday in the Cabot Center and was sponsored by Northeastern’s career development office, which has received best-in-the-nation accolades in The Princeton Review‘s annual college rankings.

From noon to 4 p.m. students handed out resumés, honed their networking skills, and exchanged business cards with scores of employers, including several nonprofit and government agencies. One of them was Patrick McMahon, S’16, who strode into Solomon Court in pursuit of his perfect professional match.

“I’m looking for a co-op in medical imaging,” he said, noting that he had completed his previous experiential learning opportunity at Harvard Apparatus, the Massachusetts-based manufacturer of specialized physiological research laboratory equipment. “Hopefully I can turn my next job into a career.”

McMahon, a fourth-year biomedical physics major, intended to hand out copies of his resumé to representatives of more than a dozen employers, including Philips, the multinational technology company. “Attending the career fair is so much easier than sending cold emails,” he said. “You’re immediately able to get your foot in the door without knowing anyone.”

Maddie DiLullo agreed. “I want to get my name out there and then follow up,” said DiLullo, DMSB’19, who was looking for a co-op job in human resources or public relations. “I’m trying to develop my skills and branch out.”

Co-​​op is the sig­na­ture pro­gram in Northeastern’s century-​​old expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion model, which com­bines rig­orous class­room learning with real-​​world work expe­ri­ence. During the 2013-2014 academic year, the university placed students in more than 9,800 co-op positions with more than 2,900 employers worldwide.

Employer representatives who attended the fair praised Northeastern’s co-​​op pro­gram for preparing young job seekers like DiLullo and McMahon for the working world—and one even offered two seniors a job on the spot.

Tom Valentine, the technical recruiter for eClinical Works, the privately held leader in ambulatory clinical solutions, noted that his firm employs a score of Northeastern graduates and co-op students each year. “We’ve always recruited from Northeastern,” he said, adding that he was looking to hire Java developers with strong computer science skills. “Northeastern students have better technical expertise than students from most other schools.”

Kameron Kirk is a software engineer for Pixability, an ad buying and video marketing platform for YouTube. He said that seasoned co-op students possess a unique blend of soft and hard skills, making them the perfect fit for Pixability’s marketing and quality assurance positions. “They know how to behave in meetings and write emails asking for help on projects,” he said. “Often, they’re looking at big picture questions.”