By Street Team Member Claire Bergsten
As I apply to my first real, post-grad job, I cannot help but look back on my last five years at Northeastern. My experience here would not have been half as great without the Service-Learning Program, and it added value to my education that I would have not gotten in another program or another school. As a human services major, I have been in at least one service-learning class almost every semester doing everything from direct service to group projects involving a community partner. My various experiences with the Service-Learning Program have changed my outlook on my major and affected my life in ways outside of the program.
Aside from the obvious impact on the community and yourself that direct service can have, it also allows students to be a leader in the community and build on their work history. In my direct service, I had an administrative role as well as acted in the role of a social worker, and this opportunity my freshman year helped me to secure future co-ops and internships. Because of service-learning, I already had the experience and maturity that they were looking for, and other non-profits that I interned for could see from my resume that I had already an understanding of community building, which they highly valued.
A consistent theme across all my service-learning classes was having an opportunity to do a task or job that someone else my age or education level would never be able to do. In the opportunity described above, I was able to be a case worker when I was only in my freshman year of college. Another project of mine was to develop a communication plan for a local non-profit. On co-op I may have gotten a chance to develop a communication plan, but I had the opportunity to create this plan as my professor was teaching us. It was an extremely helpful and innovative way to learn, and the lessons I learned in that class have stuck with me thus far because of this method.
I am extremely grateful to the Service-Learning Program for allowing me to have these opportunities and for making my Northeastern experience amazing. I think it is something everyone should try at least once in their Northeastern career. It allows you to see Boston in a new way, learn from community members you may have never met otherwise, become a leader because of the commitment you make in taking the class, become a stronger candidate for other opportunities in life, and be able to connect your classes better with the real world.