Paul Foster, DMSB’19, is taking over our Instagram account this week as he enters his senior year at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. We asked Foster to reflect on his time at Northeastern University, including co-op, study abroad experiences, and his love of cinema. Be sure to follow his Instagram takeover beginning today @damoremckim.
Q Where are you from and what are you studying at D’Amore-McKim?
I'm from Portland, Maine, and I'm a marketing major and cinema studies minor heading into my fifth and final year at Northeastern University!
Q: Tell us about your recent co-op in New York City. What have you been doing? What has been your most meaningful experience there so far and why?
I just finished my second co-op, this time in marketing and public relations at IFC Films in New York.
IFC Films is an independent film distribution company. Being able to take part in the hard work that goes into distributing movies, and selling them to audiences, has been a great learning experience. Though, as an avid film lover myself, what’s been most meaningful has been the experience of working on movies I genuinely love and being able to do it with others who are just as passionate.
As a small team, with small budgets, most of our marketing comes from grassroots efforts and publicity through news outlets. A lot of my co-op involves working with these outlets and managing and picking our marketing assets, like trailers, clips, and press notes. The most exciting work is when the team is planning and executing events.
I’ve been very lucky with my timing here, being able to take part in some of our biggest releases and best acquisitions. Recently, I worked on the premiere and press day for the release of the movie “A Kid Like Jake,” with a star-studded cast including Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, and Octavia Spencer. It was an equally complicated and exciting experience.
Q: What was your other co-op and what was your role there?
My first co-op was at a tech startup in New York City in the fall of 2016. I worked in marketing and product development, focusing on quality assurance.
It was an absolutely incredible learning experience that took me well outside of my comfort zone and area of expertise. With almost no background in app development or computer science and software development, there was an incredibly steep learning curve that I had to overcome quickly as we only were a five-person company, and everyone’s responsibilities were essential.
Q: Tell us about your global experiences at Northeastern. What kind of program enabled you to go to New Zealand?
After my first co-op, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a semester abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. I was able to go through one of the many exchange programs Northeastern offers through their relationships with schools around the world.
I got a lot out of my time in the lecture halls, taking a class on New Zealand’s fascinating history, as well as one on the recent history of China as reflected through its films and its film industry. I was also able to stay on track with my graduation trajectory by taking classes that met requirements for a business major and my marketing concentration. Being able to get a different cultural perspectives on topics like consumer behavior was very interesting.
The school was incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and the city of Auckland was always gorgeous. I’d be lying if I said the classes were the highlight, since you simply cannot beat a New Zealand landscape. With varying terrain and cityscapes, anywhere you go on either island feels wholly unique and almost always awe-inspiring. I was looking forward to going back before I had even left.
Q:What made you choose cinema studies as a minor? How has the combination of marketing and cinema studies helped in your co-op and/or academic experiences?
I’ve always loved movies; I can still clearly remember being five years old going to the local library every Friday and sifting through classics to find a new one for the week. While I continued to love movies, I never really had the opportunity to learn about film or filmmaking, but during my freshman year, I figured ‘why not?’ and signed up for my first film class. Since then, I have tried to take one film-related course each semester.
Taking these classes adds a nice change of pace to my schedule every semester, letting me have a workload that usually requires very different ways of thinking and approaching problems. It’s always a nice challenge, and I think has ultimately helped me become a better student in both fields, as well as definitely helping me with my co-ops, with my most current placement being almost a complete crossover of marketing and cinema.
Q: In addition to co-op and academics, what do you do in your free time?
Early in my time at Northeastern, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer in a writer’s room with 826 Boston, helping high school students with their work, and while I haven’t been able to recently, it’s definitely one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had.
While you can most likely find me wandering Boston carrying a camera, I also tag along on some of the NUPiC outings, attend screenings with the Film Enthusiasts Club, or volunteer with local film festivals, most recently helping with the Boston Film Festival.
Q: How has your photography influenced your interests personally and professionally?
My interest in photography was spurred by my love of movies, it felt like the most accessible way to start thinking creatively and visually, like a filmmaker. While having a better grasp of this way of thinking has undoubtedly carried over to my work academically and professionally, photography is still mainly an escape for me, where It feels like there’s always something new to learn and try, without the pressure of a grade or deadline; it’s a very freeing experience.
Q:Being a senior, what are your thoughts on the future?
When it comes to the future, for probably all the seniors, I think it’s fair to say almost everyone is at least a little nervous, that’s something that always happens with change. Though I’m more excited than anything, the experiences and skills students are equipped with are unique at Northeastern, leaving us well suited for the future. So, while nothing is set in stone yet, I feel as though I’ll be well prepared to find new opportunities or make my own.
Q:What additional insight do you have for the Northeastern community?
The one real insight I have is to take advantage of all the opportunities you have afforded to you during your time at Northeastern.
One of the best things I’ve done in my time here is study abroad, but I was shocked to find out how many people I knew didn't take advantage of this opportunity. Most people I talked to seemed to have the same concern, price, and college already isn’t cheap making it a more than an understandable concern. Though with the many different exchange programs the school offers, you can often make use of the financial aid you already have, as well as possibly receive more in scholarships.
or most of us, there aren’t nearly as many opportunities to go and spend prolonged periods in other parts of the world after college, why not do it while you can?
Q:What do you plan to share during your takeover?
I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record at this point, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to show what opportunities Northeastern offers outside of the classroom, the places I've been lucky enough to go, and experiences I’ve been able to have.