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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Husky Hunt: Northeastern does scavenger hunts right

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One of the biggest events at Northeastern every year is a little game known as Husky Hunt. Husky Hunt is, in short, a scavenger hunt. It’s been going on for a few years now (I think the first one was… 2005? 2006?) and is hosted by NU’s Resident Student Association.

Husky Hunt has escalated in popularity in recent years. I believe that, this year, somewhere around 120 teams or so registered to participate. (Don’t quote me on that! I heard it down the grapevine.)

That may sound strange to you. I mean, why do so many college kids want to do a scavenger hunt so badly? What makes it so great?

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Husky Hunt may be a scavenger hunt, but it’s a scavenger hunt taken to epic proportions. First, Husky Hunt takes place over a course of 24 hours. No breaks. That’s 24 hours that participants have to stay awake. And, in the case of many kids (like me) we also have class, work, and the like before the hunt begins, forcing us to stay up even longer.

Second, Husky Hunt isn’t restricted to just Northeastern’s campus. Nope, Husky Hunt takes place all over Boston. And even more: clues are also in Cambridge, Brookline, Somerville, Quincy… hell, there have been clues in Rhode Island before.

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I should mention that cars aren’t allowed. No, hunters must make do without the use of motorized vehicles. (Public transportation is okay, though. Taxis are not.)

Finally, the prizes for winning Husky Hunt are crazy. One year, all the members of the winning team received Kindle Fires. Another year, they all got round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the US. This is serious business.

Husky Hunt is simply one of those things you have to do before graduating. Even if you lose– and Husky Hunt is super competitive– it’s all about the experience.

I had to do it.

Not that it’s easy to become a participant, either. First, you have to set up a team of exactly 12 members. Then, you have to get your team qualified. I said earlier that around 120 teams signed up. Only 50 actually get to hunt. How does RSA decide who’s in and who’s out?

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In order to weed out the less serious teams, RSA releases a quiz to every team captain. The team must finish the quiz within a day. The quiz is only a dozen questions or so– but they are the most insane of questions. 

Like, not even brain benders. Just impossible riddles with the most ambiguous of hints that you really have to get lucky to solve.

I can’t even provide an example.

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If the team manages to pass that, they are then able to participate in Husky Hunt. Husky Hunt took place from 7PM, November 2nd (a Friday) to 7PM the next day.

As you can guess (because I’m writing about it now) I was on one of the qualifying teams.

Now, while Husky Hunt is a serious undertaking, a lot of people just do it for fun. As a result, Husky Hunt teams can be divided into a few different categories:

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I was, surprisingly enough, on a serious team. My team was comprised of mostly seniors, seniors who had done the Hunt before. Last year, their team had placed 5th out of 50 teams. This year was their last shot, so they were here to win.

And so was I. My roommates had put together their own team, and it was only natural that I had to beat them.

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That Friday, the hunt began.

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Each team received a set of hints– a set that numbered over 600 clues. 600. Most of these clues were locations in and around Boston. Teams were supposed to find these locations and take photos at them. The photos are then submitted to RSA before the end of the hunt on a USB drive.

That wasn’t the only thing going on, though. RSA also ran a constant stream of on-campus challenges. Races. Puzzles. Games. At each challenge, only a limited number of people could participate. Teams would receive text alerts throughout the 24 hours, leading to this every time a new one arrived.

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There were even Twitter challenges, Youtube challenges, challenges demanding that you bake RSA a cake, or buy them Pokemon cards, or…

My team didn’t do any of that.

We had our reasons. I mean, the on-campus challenges are fun, but competitive. I was on a team full of engineers and gamers and science-y kids. We were up against track stars and hockey players and general jocks.

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Instead, we focused on the clues. The locations. What we lacked in athleticism, we would make up in intellect. Or with this insane phone app one of our members developed:

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That member flew in from across the country to participate in Husky Hunt. That’s true devotion.

At any rate, our team split up into groups in order to cover more ground. I was put into the “fast” group– aka the team that covered the most distant clues. I’m no athlete, but I had confidence. I could bike. I could survive this 24 hours.

Since I’m living and breathing and writing this post now, I obviously survived.

But only barely.

That night, I saw more of Boston than I have… ever. We biked everywhere. From Northeastern to the North End to Science Park to Cambridge, circling around for miles, looking for clues. Take a look! (Photo has been edited to reflect emotional state at the time: )

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Accordingly, I learned a little bit more about Boston and our nation’s history.

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I also learned that everywhere can be biked to. EVERYWHERE! 

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I learned the limits of my (lacking) physical prowess. At a certain point of the hunt (probably around 4 AM or so) I definitely started to feel the effects of sleep deprivation, freezing temperatures, and physical exhaustion.

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The fact that we were biking around Charlestown at 4AM, when it was completely quiet and deserted and eerie, didn’t help.

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By the time daylight arrived again, my team barely spoke to each other. No small talk was exchanged as we biked. We only spoke when it was completely necessary.

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Which was just as well. By the end, everything seemed surreal. Like I was dreaming. It was probably a bad sign.

In total, I think I was actually biking around 9 hours or so. Which actually isn’t too bad– I have friends who were up and about for the full 24 hours. My team had some time to take breaks– as we did in the Northeastern library.

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A couple of hours before the 7PM Saturday deadline, we crunched through all of our photos, put ’em together on a flash drive, and rushed to NU to hand them in to RSA. As a congratulations for completing the hunt, RSA gave out free ice cream.

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And that was that. Husky Hunt 2012 was over. I returned home and proceeded to sleep for 13 hours.

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But who won?

RSA took their time grading each team’s submission, or maybe they didn’t– they had a lot of clues to look through, after all. Either way, we didn’t find out the results until a month later. They announced the results on a boat.

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Yeah. Like an actual boat.

All Husky Hunt volunteers and participants are invited to a cruise each year after the hunt is over. There’s a bar (for 21+ only, of course) a dance floor, a DJ, some food…

While not everyone was enthusiastic about being in the emotionally taxing Husky Hunt, the cruise everyone could enjoy. Including myself, as I went.

The cruise ran from 12AM to 3AM, since RSA really enjoys not letting people sleep. At the end, they announced the results, starting from last place and going up to first place.

I was nervous. My team had worked hard. I play to win. I wanted to win.

They got through the bottom 10…

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Then the next 10 teams…

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Then the next…

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And the next…

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And at this point I was freaking out a bit. My team had not been called yet, meaning we were in the top 10. The top 10! I listened in…

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8th! My team had placed in 8th. Not bad. We even got a prize!

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And then Husky Hunt was truly over.

So the question remains: Would I do it again?

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Though my friends won’t agree with me, I had a blast doing Husky Hunt. Even though I was with people I didn’t know, going places I’ve never been, it was simply… an experience. We were cold. We were tired. We were miserable. Don’t get me wrong. But there’s something about Husky Hunt that makes people do it over and over and over again. Is it the sheer scale of the event? The camaraderie? The whole experience? I don’t know, but it’s there.

So, Northeastern kids? Do the hunt. At least once.

Or don’t. Less competition for when I rock ultimate at Husky Hunt next year.

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Can I just talk about Assassin’s Creed III for a moment? I just finished it and now I’m all like

Freezing at Frozen Fenway

Every year, Fenway has a neat little event called “Frozen Fenway.” They build an ice hockey rink in the revered baseball stadium, invite long-time rivals to come and play each other, and charge the bejeezus out of the college kids who flock to see it. This year, Northeastern was going to play Boston College.

The idea is pretty neat and I had never been inside Fenway before. So I was hoping for a good time when I entered the stadium:

Pretty cool, right?

Or, more like:

Pretty cold.

The temperature was a cozy above-freezing when my suitemate and I walked over to Fenway. But as night descended, the temperature rapidly dropped and the winds steadily picked up. So, despite being dressed like this:

…my suitemate and I slowly reached new levels of coldness. It’s a process. A series of stages. That looks a bit like this:

 

To make a massive understatement, it was unpleasant. Between periods my suitemate and I would stand up and weakly stomp our feet in an attempt to warm up.

The folks at Fenway know this, too. They intelligently sell hot chocolate at outrageous prices to the fans.

 

And Northeastern lost, to boot. I have never seen so much hatred spilled on the ice as on that night in Fenway. Sad times.

So finally, the cold weather Boston is known for is starting to settle in. I haven’t even seen the worst of it! I’ll be in my Eskimo clothes for the next few months. No worries!