I am Charul Agrawal, a candidate of MS in Energy Systems (a very special program of the MIE department on the Boston campus). I worked as an Energy Efficiency Co-op, New Construction, Commercial and Industrial department for 7 months at Eversource Energy, Westwood, Massachusetts in 2022.
As I am in my last leg of the Masters’, I am filled with immense gratitude for all the resources this wonderful university had to offer. Not only do we get a world-class education, but Energy Conferences, competitions like Solar Decathlon, Climate Action fellowship, etc. provide great exposure and confidence. What sets the Northeastern University students apart is that the conversation on finding co-op begins right after one decides to join their respective programs. By the time I signed my intent to go on a co-op form in my second semester, I already had a prepared resume and cover letter, had practiced for interviews, and worked on the feedback from my co-op advisor and instructor. As an international student with no prior experience in the Renewable Energy field, getting a co-op that would count as work experience before graduating mattered a lot. This opportunity served as a good insight on how the US workplace functions, and what makes it thrive. In this article, I am going to share my journey of a co-op search.
To begin with, I was a Spring 2021 intake. I had the advantage of one whole year before going on a co-op. By then, I had completed two full semesters of Spring and Fall, and an additional full summer semester, along with a term as the President of the Energy Systems Society. While I was eligible to go on a co-op from January, I did not get any responses until December. During this time, my batchmates, friends and people who had already been on co-ops were extremely supportive in dealing with the setbacks. They not only helped me identify the gaps in my resume, but also present skills gained from the academic projects and the student club in a (better) way that the ATS software would recognize. I applied through NUworks, LinkedIn, MassCEC and company websites.
I was delighted to get an interview call in late January from Eversource when I had almost given up. To put my best foot forward, I reached out to Northeastern students working for Eversource to learn about their interview process. My biggest help was a friend who actually did not clear his Eversource interview (and was successfully completing his co-op at another company), but had documented the questions and his answers. He even conducted a mock interview with me. An alumnus took his time out of his schedule to share his experience because he had worked with my future Supervisor. He also guided me on negotiating my pay.
My Eversource Supervisor had nothing but nice things to say about her previous co-ops, most of whom were from Northeastern University and I think that she already had a good impression and expectation in mind before the interview. I spent 7 amazing months at Eversource gaining technical and professional skills and building life-time friendships with my co-workers.
As I approach my graduation date and look back, it wasn’t just my efforts- it was a hundred people who helped me reach where I am today. I will forever be indebted to everybody, and will pass on the same kindness to others. Everytime I meet and talk to people across the US and mention my graduate school, people comment that they have a great work experience with NU folks. The best advantage any NU student can have is the established student and alumni network that also acts as a strong support system, and I hope everyone reading my journey gets to leverage that!