In a remote world, this co-op maintains global connections

Shannon Murphy, who studies international affairs and environmental studies, thinks globally at a non-profit organization WorldBoston. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

What happens when COVID-19-related travel restrictions put a damper on your co-op, which just happens to focus on Boston’s role as a global partner on critical issues impacting the planet? If you’re Shannon Murphy, a third-year international affairs major at Northeastern, you get creative and develop a newfound passion for virtual event planning. 

Murphy is on co-op at WorldBoston, a small nonprofit organization that focuses on engaging international experts on issues such as climate control and healthcare access. The organization also plays host to international professionals and students who want to explore Greater Boston while bulking up the connective tissue between countries.

Murphy, who serves as an outreach associate, spoke with News@Northeastern about her experiences at WorldBoston, and how a job that focuses on international issues of the day helped her gain insight into her personal career goals.

Can you give us a little more insight into what WorldBoston does?

They do so many things! Their motto is “The world in Boston, and Boston in the world.” On the one side they focus on global engagement which serves the greater Boston community. That involves things like speaker events and an authors series. That’s the side I’m working on, so I do outreach and event planning for that. The other side of things that they do is citizen diplomacy, which brings international visitors to Boston.

Is that hard, considering international travel still has many pandemic-related restrictions?

I think they were able to transition pretty smoothly and quickly, from my experience working there. And it’s been pretty successful. The global engagement events have been over Zoom. We just had one with Baylor Fox Kemper, who is a coordinating lead author on the U.N. climate report that just came out. We’ve been able to get authors that maybe wouldn’t have been able to join us in normal times. So, that’s kind of a silver lining.

What’s your favorite part of the job so far?

I really like the events. I think the speakers we’ve been able to get are so interesting and knowledgeable. So, that’s been really great. We had an event with Nicole Perlroth in September. She is a New York Times journalist and wrote a book on cybersecurity that was actually a little scary. Definitely a wake-up call.

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in working at WorldBoston?

I would advise them to attend an event beforehand. Especially now that they’re virtual, they’re super easy to check out. It’s such a good way to get a feel for what the organization does and the people that they bring and the reach that they can have.

Did you learn anything about your own career goals from this co-op?

I’ve learned that I really enjoy event planning. I really Iike the intricacy of the level of detail that you can compile together. And at the end, you can pull off this really great event if you put the work in, and the time. I really have come to enjoy that part of the process, and that was something I wasn’t necessarily expecting going into this. I also do enjoy being in the office, which is kind of surprising. I got so used to just being on Zoom for the past year and a half, so it was something I was a little worried about. I honestly do really enjoy it. It’s just a new experience and it’s something that I’m glad I got to participate in.

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