BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2018. I was in a five-year program.
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Private high school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Computer Engineering
Extracurricular Activities: I was in a community service club where we went to various organizations and helped them out. I also did intramural Muay Thai boxing.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
It was a lot of different kinds of homework. We had some big assignments, math problem sets, and we had to do all of the science classes that other engineers had to do, like physics and chemistry.
What were your major graded assignments?
It was mostly coding projects. A lot of them had a final exam, but I would say most of them were project based.
Is there anything that you feel your major’s department did especially well or especially poorly?
The thing they did well was they gave a good overview of all the different subjects you might touch on in your career as a computer engineer or programmer. You see all the different types of problems you might run into and how they connect to each other. The bad part was that they didn’t go very in-depth into certain topics. We didn’t learn as much programming as they do at other [more STEM-focused] schools. That put us at a disadvantage with some of the technical skills.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It wasn’t competitive, which was nice. People were mostly nice to each other and helped each other out. I wouldn’t say it was super friendly, but people weren’t cutthroat. You could just do your own thing and not worry about other people.
What was your favorite class in your major?
Digital Logic Design. It was with a really good professor. He explained things really well and made it sound really cool.
What was your least favorite class in your major?
Statistics. It was really boring and I didn’t feel like I learned anything.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I chose it because I was interested in technology and computers in general, but not necessarily interested in as specific of a major as Computer Science. Computer Science is a lot more specific in that you just learn programming, but Computer Engineering is a broader overview. I’m happy with the choice. I think it was the right thing for me. I enjoyed most of the stuff that I learned and thought it was pretty cool.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: I lived in International Village with one roommate. We shared a bathroom with another double room adjacent to us.
Sophomore: In a six-person apartment in Davenport A. We had three double bedrooms.
Junior-5th year: We moved off campus to a six-person apartment in Mission Hill.
What was your favorite living situation?
Living off campus because it’s cheaper, and you have more opportunities for parties and things like that because it’s in more of an actual neighborhood.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It was usually very safe. I never personally felt in danger. We’d get texts on our phone about police activity in certain areas or to not go to certain streets, but I never personally felt threatened or endangered.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Crispy Dough Pizzeria.
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
There were a lot of nice places, but I’d say Downtown Crossing. It’s a nice neighborhood.
Pros and cons of being in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston?
Pros: 1) It’s much cheaper than living on campus.
2) It’s pretty quiet and nice in terms of traffic and ambulances and stuff like that.
3) There is more nightlife because it’s farther away from campus.
Cons: 1) Distance from campus. It’s kind of a far walk.
2) It can be a little sketchy at times. [See crime data.]
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
It was more bars. Boston’s not a very party friendly city because it’s a tight city and noise is a big factor. There wasn’t much of a big nightlife until I turned 21, then I started going to bars and stuff a lot. Before that, it was just small gatherings of friends. After I turned 21, I would usually just go out on Friday and Saturday night. There’s a place called Howl at the Moon that everyone likes to go to on Thursday nights, so I would go there occasionally. There’s a local bar called Conor Larkin’s that does trivia on Tuesdays and that’s really popular too.
What’s an alternative to going to a bar or a party that you liked for a night out?
There were some good concerts I went to. It’s a popular city for bands to come through. It’s also fun to go out and walk around the city and not necessarily go to a bar or anything. There are a lot of places that are pretty to walk around. You can grab a late-night cannoli or something and walk near the water, especially in the summer it’s really pretty. That’s what I personally like to do.
How happy were you with the nightlife at Northeastern? If you could change anything, what would you change?
I was in the middle. I wish they had more of a party scene. People tend to be kind of serious there. There’s not as much of a party atmosphere, which I sometimes felt like I missed out on. Overall, I’m happy.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Freshman year we were randomly paired, but we all hung out all the time. Then we met each other’s friends and became a big friend group. It was through on-campus housing. That worked out really well.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Northeastern?
It’s pretty good. It’s a serious school. People take their studies very seriously, so having fun and socializing can take a backseat. People are very friendly and, if you make an effort, there are fun things to do and lots of ways to make friends.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
For the most part, I think they mix well. The international students tend to hang out together, like all the Chinese students hang out together and the Spanish speaking students will hang out together and not intermingle as well with the people from the U.S. There’s a known diversity problem. Even though it can seem very diverse, there are not many people from low-income neighborhoods. [I’ve heard that] people who actually come from the Boston public schools tend to feel out of place and left out, so that’s kind of a weird dynamic. [6% of students are African-American, 8% are Hispanic, and 20% are international students. Socioeconomically, 3.7% of students at Northeastern come from the bottom 20%.]
How would you describe the student body?
It’s very diverse, which is cool. [20% of students are international.] People are studious and ambitious. People work hard. But, people still do have fun and are not too competitive or cutthroat.
What impact has co-op had on your social experience?
It gives it somewhat of a weird social dynamic. It’s weird because there is only like half of the student body on campus at a time. You might go on co-op for six months and then your friend might go on co-op after that for six months, so you won’t see them for a whole year. That happened to me with a couple of my friends and that definitely affects your friendship. I wouldn’t say I lost any friends or anything super drastic, but it does force you to be open to meeting new people and not just stick with the same people all the time because you might not see one of your friends for a long time.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice for Northeastern by senior year? Do you think people leaving loving Northeastern?
Yeah, most people I’ve talked to are very happy they’ve gone there. Everyone has a few complaints about certain things, but most people are happy with Northeastern. They think that it’s made them a better student and job applicant.
Has the alumni network helps you find internships or jobs?
I know there’s a really good alumni network, but I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of it as much as I should have. The CEO of the company I’m working at now went to Northeastern, so that’s pretty cool. I guess that’s a good connection.
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
They’re good. Whatever major you are you get placed with a co-op adviser and they give you all sorts of tips about your resume and job hunting and stuff like that. I think that gave me a big leg up compared to other people [at other schools] who were looking for internships and jobs.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There’s a cool art gallery in the student center that not many people know about.
Reasons to attend Northeastern:
1) It forces you to be an adult in a good way because of the job search for co-op and the serious student body.
2) The professional skills you gain, like resume building and job search skills.
3) The city of Boston is awesome. Boston is a very cool place to be in as a student.
Reasons to not attend Northeastern:
1) If you really want to have a crazy college experience, Northeastern’s not the place for you.
2) If you’re really into the liberal arts, you probably want to go somewhere else because Northeastern is a business and engineering focused school.
3) The winter. It gets way too cold.