A Glimpse of the SF Program

Credit: Trent – Unsplash

It’s that time of the year! Fall quarter may not be round the corner yet but it’s definitely on our minds! London, Paris, San Francisco, Asia – endless opportunities await! In order to get a better understanding of the San Francisco program in the fifth quarter, we interviewed a student from IMC 2017 who chose this program.

Who do you think should consider the San Francisco program?

Students who want to find a job on the west coast. If staying on the west coast is not in your career plan, you may want to stay in Chicago since there is better career support.

Also, students who are interested in digital marketing and data can choose this program because the courses are assigned to you, and everyone here will have the same schedule. It will not be the best choice for students who want to focus on brand strategy since the courses are not highly related to this specialization.

Unless you know the specific companies you want to work for are located in San Francisco, it’s easier to apply for jobs in most agencies, advertising companies and consulting companies in Chicago since career fairs will be a great opportunity to reach the employers

International students who want to go back to their countries after graduation may want to stay in Evanston since moving to another place can be really annoying. However, if you plan to enrich your experiences while studying abroad, SF is a good choice.

How many of you chose SF program?

About 35.

Can you describe your class schedule? Did you also have classes four days a week in SF?

There won’t be full-time professors. The lecturers here usually have their full-time job in the Bay Area. They have many practical experiences. A lot of classes are night classes.

We only had classes three days a week. In one day, there were two courses, and there was one night course each day in the other two days (from 6:00pm to 9:00pm). Many people chose to self-study at school when they were free.

What was your favorite part of the program?

My favorite part was the projects. We had two hands-on projects. In one of the courses, we were paired with start-ups while in another course, our client could be a start-up or a larger company. Mine was GoFundMe, a relatively larger company. Different groups solved different problems for their companies, and we presented in different ways.

And the weather is so good, so you can have fun.

What’s the part of the program that needed to be improved?

It needs more career advisors. But I understand that it’s hard to have full-time faculty members relocate to the SF campus.

Can you describe the facility or building of the SF campus?

We own one floor in an 18-story building near union square.

Can you describe the courses?

Consumer insight is more theoretical. Another two courses are project-based. I think it’s a good combination. During the last three months, you will spend more time looking for jobs than on courses. You need to choose a place that better fits your career plan.

Tell me more about the projects.

The whole SF program is pretty much project-based. Your clients will be real start-ups and real companies. To what extent the project is related to data analysis totally depends on the company you are working for. For some groups, a massive amount of data is provided, while for others, they need to collect data by their own. It’s not even under the schools’ control. There will be set expectations at the beginning of the projects, but things can change quickly within this fast-paced three months.

For the start-ups’ projects, each team member will interview someone from the company and gather consumer insight information. You meet with the company’s contact at least once a week, and sometimes you need to go their company. It’s very interactive.

This year, all companies were tech businesses. We provided different solutions based on the companies’ expectations. Some businesses were subscription-based, while others were more like online platforms or online services. Projects may involve customer retention or acquisition.

The professors were our advisors and they contacted these companies for the courses.

Will the program be very intense?

No, it’s not. It’s like the previous quarters in Evanston.

How does Northwestern provide the career service in San Francisco?

People who choose to stay in Evanston for their fifth quarter will definitely have more career services compared with people who choose SF program. There won’t be many career advisors, info sessions or career fairs. However, if you want to work in San Francisco, you can always spend time networking on your own.

Where do students usually live in San Francisco?

Most of my friends lived downtown. A studio or a bedroom usually costs $1800 per month. Transportation will be more convenient if you live near the campus.  Some students chose to take buses or the metro. Most of them found apartments on Zillow. Monthly rent through Airbnb was another popular option.

Is there be a student dining center on Campus?

No there is not, but there is free coffee and tea. You will be downtown San Francisco so there are plenty of restaurant options. Many people chose to live in Chinatown, which is not far away from the campus, so it was easy to do grocery shopping.

Is it possible that you work with a company during the fifth quarter and you get an offer after graduation?

No. The companies stated that they were going to only focus on the projects and had no plan on hiring people.

Overall, will you recommend this program to us?

It totally depends on your career plan and what you value the most. If you are new graduates who really need career advising, like resume workshops and mock interviews, SF program is not your best choice since career advisors will only fly to SF once or twice and you have about half an hour each time. You can also schedule a Skype appointment with advisors but the time difference is another thing you may want to think about.

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