How I landed an internship on the other side of the world

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Those were my thoughts as my semester in Australia neared its end. It’s a pretty common sentiment among college students, especially those reaching the end of their college career. Which includes me.

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I couldn’t graduate yet. I wasn’t mentally ready.

Yet, at the same time, I didn’t want to just take extra classes and drag out my degree. That would just be delaying the inevitable and creating an extra financial burden on my parents. No, if I was to delay graduation, I would do it by doing something worthwhile.

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For those who don’t know, my school– Northeastern University– has a program where students work full-time for 6 months in between taking classes. It’s a great program, one that I really believe in. After all, kids get real-life experience in the field that they’re studying, bolstering their resume, helping their personal development, and allowing them to discover what they really want to do. I completed a co-op last spring and was keen to get another one.

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Though Northeastern has a lot of connections with local companies in Boston, students still have to go through the job-seeking process. We write resumes, contact employers, and go to interviews. Sending off my resume and applying for jobs was no problem– but I had one little bump to get over:

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I e-mailed my co-op advisor in concern, who believed that it wouldn’t be a problem. We live in an age with internet and video calling. Any employer should be willing to interview via Skype, right?

Wrong.

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Since I have a good bit of work experience, I was contacted by many companies. All of whom reached the same conclusion:

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Soon, no fewer than five companies had asked me to interview with them– only to retract their interview soon after. I was starting to lose hope.

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I was reaching the end of my semester in Sydney, so finding a job was becoming urgent. My friends and I were leaving Sydney after exams were over. Soon, I’d be on the road, traveling through the Australian boonies. Who knows if I’d even have internet?

My co-op advisor was really on-the-ball for this one. Stunned that so many employers were unwilling to give me a chance, she went the extra mile to help me out.

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And then, as my semester came to a close, a ray of hope appeared.

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Could it be?! Someone was actually willing to Skype me! My co-op advisor even arranged the time and webcam for the interview to happen.

Thus, from my bedroom in Sydney, I went through my first Skype interview.

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I was nervous, of course, but I thought the interview went well regardless. A few days later, I was even contacted for a second interview!

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Additionally,

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And…

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So. Two weeks from then, in some hostel or campground, I would have to interview for two hours in the middle of the night. I was a little freaked out by this. What if the hostel we were staying at didn’t have internet?! What if it was a loud, rambunctious party hostel?! My friends offered up their smartphones if I needed them.

But I lucked out. The night of my interview, we were staying in a campground. The family running the camp had an area of their house set up for guests with wi-fi. The owner was kind enough to keep the area open for me that night.

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And thus, the interview began. I would be talking to 5 different people over a course of 2 hours.

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It wasn’t the greatest interview. As I discovered, I barely knew anything about the equipment I worked with the previous year. I was also falling asleep by the end of it. The interview concluded and I finally went to bed…

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…only to wake up 4 hours later.

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All during that tour, I tried not to think about my interview. I was convinced it went horribly. I obviously didn’t have that much technical knowledge, and I was half-asleep the whole time. Plus, they had other candidates that they could interview in person! How could I make an impression over that?

But I still held on hope.

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I got the job.

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No way. 

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For some reason, the people had decided that I was the best fit for the job. I have no idea why they thought this.

Seriously, though. I was about to fall asleep during my interview.

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But I’ll take it.

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Now I’m happily employed until the end of June, working for a pharmaceutical research company in Boston. I still can’t believe I managed to land such a good position after that insane Skype interview.

And that’s how I netted an internship while on the other side of the world. Life is crazy sometimes, you know?

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My calc professor scares me

I took the AP Calc AB and BC exams in high school, so I can exempt the classes at Northeastern. However, bio majors have to take a year’s worth of calculus anyway– a specific course engineered to teach calculus as applied to biology.

Calc is my worst subject. Always.

And this is how my calc professor introduced the class:

He went on.

He went on.

By the end of his speech, I looked like this:

This class is gonna be a good time.

My dorm building is also secretly awesome

Living in International Village is actually pretty nice.

As I said in this post, International Village is a two-year-old residential hall open to upperclassmen and honors freshmen. It’s a bit isolated from the rest of campus, requiring a short walk across Ruggles Station to reach the rest of campus. Thus, Northeastern apparently designed International Village to be a sort of “campus of its own.” I wouldn’t exactly call it that, but it’s got some nice perks.

I mentioned before that the dorms are nice, but the building itself is too. We’ll start with the basics: International Village, unlike many of the residential halls at Northeastern, has air conditioning.

There’s a miniature gym for students’ convenience.

There’s a gorgeous bamboo courtyard nestled between the IV towers.

International Village is 22 stories high. It’s essential that we have multiple nice, fast elevators.

With 22 stories also comes a nice view. You can actually see Fenway Park from the upper floors of IV, whose bright lights stand out at night:

Those bright lights are Fenway Park, as seen from the 22nd floor of IV.

Boston in daytime. There’s a laundry room on the 22nd floor for kids to do their laundry and enjoy the view.

Every floor has an common area with a flat-screen TV.

Every even-numbered floor has a pool table.

But my favorite part of the whole building? Hands down the dining hall! IV’s dining hall, in my opinion, is the best on campus. It’s a certified three-star green restaurant (whatever that means) but more importantly, it’s unsurprisingly international-themed. The dining hall serves a variety of foods, including daily wood-oven pizza, Indian and Italian food, and my personal favorite…

Though I also dig that there’s sparkling water. I’ve missed it since Germany! However, the hall often runs out of milk, which is unfortunate.

Other features of International Village? A small computer lounge by the dining hall, which is nice. There’s some classrooms, though I have no classes here. IV is also “LEED Gold certified,” meaning it has green features such as “motion-sensor lighting, recycled building materials, low-flow showers and faucets, and a roof garden.”

So I rather like International Village. As my roommate aptly put it, Northeastern is “pampering” we IV kids. But hey, I enjoy it! Keep going NU!

My dorm room is secretly awesome

Before I arrived to Northeastern, I had been trying forever to see what my dorm looked like. I’m living in International Village (IV), a building that’s been open since 2009. Pretty new.

In order to know what to bring to college, I wanted to know what my dorm room looked like. No such thing. Photos are impossible to come by online. When I went on a campus tour of Northeastern, we didn’t visit IV– it had a tour of its own.

Dorm rooms are notorious for being small. I’ve seen some of the dorms at other universities. The dorms are petite. Rather cramped. Storage space is hard to come by. Knowing this, I packed to maximize storage space for my dorm.

IV rendered many of these things useless:

Adjustable bed frame.

Drawers under the bed.

Closet with shelves.

Desk with drawers.

I’m in what’s called a “semi-private double.” Meaning, I’m in a double– I have a roommate– but we don’t have to share a communal bathroom with the whole floor. Instead, we share a toilet and shower with the room adjacent to us. Each room has its own sink. All the rooms in International Village are like this– you won’t find a communal bathroom anywhere here.

Desk with drawers.

So that’s the deal with my dorm! A dorm this nice isn’t the norm– IV only houses upperclassmen and honors freshmen. Visiting freshmen have commented on the cleanliness, size, and modernity of IV. Man, I lucked out again, didn’t I?

And for the incoming honors freshman– here is what the dorm looks like.

The area at the door.

Our microfridge and microwave. These can be rented, for the low, low price of $207.19 a year. In IV, you can bring your own fridge, but not a microwave. Oh, and the TV? Definitely not included in the dorm.

My side of the room!

The shared portion of the bathroom. Bathroom carpets, toilet paper, toilet cleaner, and toilet plunger not included. Also, a shower curtain is provided, but my roommate provided this nicer one.

Hopefully, with this, future freshmen will be less confused! It’s a common problem for freshmen everywhere to not know what your dorm looks like. So…

I’m so excited to live here! More on IV to come!