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Career fair for the socially minded

3/21/11

By May, senior Jason Whye could be restoring natural habitats or removing invasive plants as a community crew leader for a national conservation group that hires students to work in the national parks and forests.

"I want to do something because it makes a positive impact, not because it makes a lot of money," said Whye, a history major whose longer-term goal is to teach high school history.

Whye was one of about 200 students and alumni who handed out résumés, honed their networking skills and exchanged business cards with more than 60 employers at Northeastern’s nuCAUSE (Creating Awareness and Understanding of Social Engagement) Careers Expo last Thursday. The expo, held in Cabot Cage, was sponsored by the University’s career services office, which has received best-in-the-nation accolades from The Princeton Review.

The expo was the first of four upcoming events on campus designed to help students learn about career opportunities in social change. A nonprofit networking event will be held in the Egan Research Center on March 24 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

"We have launched an entire initiative to make students aware of the social engagement opportunities available in the nonprofit sector," said Maria Stein, director of career services.

"More students are becoming interested in social engagement and more nonprofit employers are coming to campus," she added, noting that Northeastern students are top candidates for positions with Teach For America and the Peace Corps. "Students can make a living while doing good," Stein said.

Like Whye, third-year environmental studies and international affairs dual major Elena Huisman said she "would like to work toward something that changes the world."

Huisman, who grew up in a family devoted to recycling and other conservation practices, attended the expo to pinpoint environmentally focused nonprofit organizations where she might like to work after graduation.

"It just made sense to carry what I've known my whole life into a career," said Huisman, who is pursuing a co-op position in reforestation in Ecuador.

Employers view Northeastern students as top-of-the-line job candidates because their experiential learning opportunities imbue them with a greater sense of professionalism and can-do confidence.

"Northeastern students already have experience in the working environment because of co-op," said Susan Rapoza-Houle, director of recruitment and orientation for Beacon Services. The Massachusetts-based education, assessment and consulting group serves children in need of behavioral support.

Rapoza-Houle said students who completed the applied behavior analysis program through the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern are uniquely suited to become therapists for the organization. Educators who work with children and their families, she said, use many of the principles students learn in the program.

"Northeastern students are more focused than students who graduated from other schools," she said.

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