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Cooperative Education

Gabriella Giacone is greeted by fans at a recent Northeastern University women’s basketball game. Courtesy photo.

The Department of Psychology is dedicated to offering multiple opportunities in experiential learning, including our signature cooperative education (co-op) program.

Co-op is a cornerstone of Northeastern University, and has existed as part of the curriculum for more than 100 years. In the Department of Psychology, students spend six months at a time working in one of the many hospitals in Boston, in a research lab on or off campus, for companies around the world, or in business, human services, government, and health care. Students typically go on two or three co-ops in four or five years as a student.  By working in varied jobs and settings, students learn their likes and dislikes about different psychology careers before committing to one.

Student Testimonials

Ian Brenckle, Research co-op in the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab

“I had previously done a co-op at another cognitive science lab, leading me to believe that working at the IASL would be more of the same. While some surface features remain, the experience I have thus far received at the IASL is significantly different, and no less valuable than that from other placements. So far, I have learned about recording and processing psychophysiology measures like EDA, EKG, and Cardiac Impedance. I have additionally learned to collect EEG data. In addition to a host of new three letter initialisms, the IASL has given me the opportunity to work on a team of people with diverse backgrounds; each bringing some variable experience to the table. Overall, the experience has been enlightening, and most of all fun. I foresee that some of the skills, both technical and professional, that I learn here will be invaluable in the world of active research.”


Fallon Cassidy, Human Factors Co-op at QinetiQ-NA

“Through the co-op program at Northeastern University, I discovered an emerging and exciting area of applied psychology that I previously hadn’t known existed! At the suggestion of my advisor, Charlotte, I took a co-op position in the field of Human Factors which ultimately led me to my full time, post-graduate position in User Experience Research and Design. During my co-ops, I used motion capture suits and eye trackers to make human-technology interactions more functional. I gained technical skills in study design and facilitation and worked with real participants in a professional environment. The acquisition of the skills has allowed me to be a competitive applicant in the current job market and has given me the confidence needed to land my dream job at an amazing company, straight out of my undergraduate education!”


Gabriella Giacone, Teacher Assistant at John D. Runkle

“During my role as a Co-op employee at John D. Runkle, I had the wonderful opportunity of being exposed to children in classrooms from Kindergarten to Eighth grade. This gave me a look at the developmental aspect of schooling as well as different classroom dynamics. Although I really enjoy working with kids, and this was my favorite part of the job, I also did some behind the scenes work. During my time when I wasn’t in the classroom interacting with the students, I was in the Main Office interacting with parents, teachers, and working on facilitation of communication. Using tools such as excel, I worked closely with the office staff to promote organization and more accessibility for the entire school to technology.”

Ned Gold, Research Co-op at Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

“First of all, I came to Northeastern University because of the co-op program. Co-op gave me the hands-on clinical and research experience I so craved and needed, allowing me to figure out whether my mental goals were on point in reality. I learned how to write research protocols, record data, and effectively function as part of a research team. Most importantly to me, though, I was able to hone my manner of interaction with patients by working closely with them for weeks at a time and administering the non-invasive brain stimulation, which as you can imagine, is a very personal therapy. Developing a rapport with the patients—something I could really only have done in a setting like my co-op at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center— and helping them was my favorite part of co-op: their gratitude was inexpressibly rewarding to me. Without the co-op class, its resume workshop, and interview preparation, I don’t think I would have got the job! Charlotte [Lam] helped me the whole way, and I am very grateful for that!”


Kathryn Hardin, Research co-op in the Categorization and Reasoning Lab

“The psychology research labs at Northeastern University provide students with exceptional opportunities to develop valuable research skills during their undergraduate studies.  This semester, I am co-oping with the Categorization and Reasoning Lab on campus.  Though I had previous research experience, I am learning about different aspects of research studies in the CRL.  Our lab currently has studies in various stages of completion; seeing projects at different phases has helped me develop a better understanding of the processes that researchers must go through in order to obtain grants, run participants, interpret data, and publish papers.  Additionally, I am able to work with several graduate students and sit-in on graduate seminar focusing on essentialist thinking.  The topics discussed in the class and its readings are a great supplement to what I am learning in the lab and deepen my understanding of many of our studies. My time working here in the CRL will definitely strengthen my application when I apply for graduate school and help prepare me for the rigor of graduate research and course work.”


Jolaade Okanlawon, Center Support Teacher at Bright Horizons

“During my co-op, I really loved being able to provide positive guidance to all of the children at the center in order to augment their self-esteem as well as to encourage good behavior. Ever since my co-op came to an end, I realized that I had a preference for interacting with the toddlers at the center. This has made me more aware of the fact that if I were to pursue Speech-Language Pathology as a career then I would definitely specialize in Early Intervention.”


Ashley Scott, Residential Counselor at Italian Home for Children

“What I love the most about my co-op is being able to have the opportunity to see children learn, grow and being able to create a bond with them. The feeling I have when sitting next to a kid during bedtime, while listening to music or reading a book, watching as he or she fall asleep; or arriving to work hearing a child yell my name and coming up for a hug, is unexplainable. My heart has a warm spot for each and every one of them.  It is no myth that this job comes with many struggles, but there is nothing I enjoy more than knowing that I am the reason these children feel loved. Many of the children have family members who can’t seem to show up. There’s been many days when I wanted to burst into tears after seeing the face of a child whose been told there will be no visit, which he or she has been waiting for all week. However, it becomes my goal to make their day better and I will go above and beyond to make sure that happens. To see the smile on a disappointed child’s face is the warmest feeling I could ever ask for. I love my coop because I am having the chance to be a better person than most people have ever been to them. I want them to know that I am not another disappointment, and there’s no amount of words, kicks, punches, bites, or any other form of anger that will make me give up on them. My mission is to make a difference, and if I haven’t so already, then I hope by the end of my coop I am able to say I did.”