Shaun: Some thoughts on, and from, a co-op

I know what you’re thinking — aren’t co-ops a Northeastern thing? If I had wanted to take a semester off of classes to go work, wouldn’t I have gone to school on the E Line, not on the B Line?

Maybe, but hear me out when I say that, even for a BU student, a co-op can be a fantastic experience and a great way to break up the rhythm of classes. I’m doing a co-op this semester at The Patriot Ledger, a daily newspaper based in Quincy, Mass. that covers about 30 cities and towns south of Boston. That means I’m not taking any classes; instead, I commute to and from an office each workday like a (semi) adult. I still live on campus and eat in the dining halls, but I haven’t done a lick of schoolwork since May. 

I’m really happy that I chose to do a co-op, and while I know it’s an uncommon thing for a BU student to do, it’s something I would suggest considering if you have the space in your schedule. Many COM students will have that space, I’ve found, and it’s an experience that can show you firsthand what a future career could look like on a daily basis. 

Luckily, I still like what I’m doing — print journalism — after almost five months of doing it for 40+ hours a week. That’s the big risk you take with a co-op. It’s a bigger commitment than most internships are, so if you hate it, you’re kind of stuck for the long haul. But if you love it, I don’t think there’s any better way to get real-world experience in your field as an undergraduate student. 

I’ve also found that my co-op is a nice break from the rhythm of classes and, especially, exams. I know it’s midterm season on campus because my friends are busy studying, but for me, it’s just been like any other couple weeks. In fact, I’ve almost found my life has more structure nowadays than it did at any point before in my college career. I wake up at the same time, eat at the same time, commute at the same time and get home at the same time every weekday.

And I think that when the time comes, I’ll be more than ready to get back into that full-on college student rhythm. So yes, I know we don’t go to Northeastern. I know ours is the B Line, not the E. But consider a co-op, anyway!

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