What I Learned on Co-op

Welcome to the Explore Blog! My name is Ciara and I’m a 5th year Psychology student. I am a teaching assistant and coordinator for the Explore Program.  If I’m not in class or meeting with one of my students, you can probably find me in the student leader office. If you follow our social media (@NU_explore), that’s me too!

One of my favorite experiences so far at Northeastern, other than being a student leader for the explore program, has been going on co-op! As most of you know co-op is a 6 month experience when you are not taking classes, but working full-time. My first co-op was at the Lawrence School in Brookline. This school served kids in grades K-8th and brought a multitude of experiences and skills to my resumes. While applying to co-ops for the first time, I never thought I wanted to work at a school. I knew I wanted to work with children, but my preference was in a clinical setting. Since I didn’t have that much experience with kids my co-op advisor suggested I start in a school setting and then move into a hospital type setting for my second one.

One of the things the Explore program taught me and has continued to teach me is how to be my own self-advocate. I got to put this to use during my co-op. While my role ranged from lunch duties to covering classes, I also had a lot of free time. In the early weeks of my co-op my bosses asked me about my interests or if I would want to do any special tasks while I worked at Lawrence. I quickly found myself feeling comfortable with the first grade teachers and their students. During my time at Lawrence I was able to take initiative and spend at least an hour of my day in one of two first grade classrooms. Mrs. Currle and Ms. Frye opened their doors and allowed me to help execute many lesson plans. Taking initiative with this led teachers across all grades to give me a lot more responsibility, which I eagerly welcomed!

My advice for co-op at Northeastern is to be flexible and take initiative! I never thought I’d be interested in teaching specifically and I had an absolute wonderful time. I’ve also found, not just with co-op but in other work spaces, that when someone shows initiative and takes the lead on a project they are more likely to receive more responsibility in the future. For someone that likes a challenge, like me, this was greatly appreciative! Your superiors will see someone with a hard work ethic and not only trust you more but also have a lot more respect for you.

While I had a phenomenal experience at the Lawrence school I still am unsure if education is something I want to pursue within the realm of Psychology. The explore program has provided me with strategies and tools to go about making tough decisions. Although I’ve been a psychology student for three years, in a way I’m still undeclared because of the vast options I have career wise after graduation. Luckily for me this isn’t something that is daunting, because I’ve learned from past experiences the types of work settings I value and that no matter what I choose I’ll land on my feet!


By: Ciara Celestin