This semester, groups of Muhlenberg students travelled to New York City, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia for the second annual Career Center road trip series. Each of the trips were divided into two parts: visiting industry sites during the day, and then coming together for a networking reception with local alumni at night.
“These trips are at the heart of what I do, in addition to meeting students and workshops and things like that,” said Ryan Smolko, the Associate Director of Student Transition and Engagement.
“Kind of the mandate for the new Career Center as we evolved to what we are now is to look at new ways to both get alumni involved, and connect students to industry and alumni.”
The road trips are certainly a way to assist students in gaining connections and knowledge from their projected career paths. “You can read about an occupation all day long. It’s way different when you’re at the site,” noted Smolko. “You feel what the place is about, see the landscape, it’s a more impactful experience.”
The first trip of the semester was to New York City on Sept. 24. Around 70 students attended, and they visited AB Global, Roundabout Theatre Company, Linkedin, The Dr. Oz Show, Ketchum and Publicis.
“The realization that my time here at Muhlenberg can culminate in my dream career was so empowering and got me excited for what is to come,” said Amisha Datta ‘21, who went to the Roundabout Theatre Company site. “At the reception, I gained real world insight into the world of networking. Previously, I thought networking would be boring and very adult. I cannot express how wrong I was!”
While Datta is a freshman who had her first opportunity to go on the trip this semester, some seniors who attended, such as Michael Havkins ‘18, reflected on the experience from a different perspective.
“If I could give one piece of advice to my freshman year self, it would be to take advantage of all of the opportunities the Career Center provides us with and to not be afraid to speak with such staff to help build a foundation of professionalism early on in my collegiate career,” said Havkins, who attended the LinkedIn site.
Another student who reflected on the New York City trip was Mark Gutierrez ‘18, who visited AB Global. He explained, “Being an accounting and finance major, I was able to meet plenty of alumni working in front-office finance roles in NYC.”
Students were not the only people positively impacted from these trips, as alumni had similar reactions. “The really insightful response we got was that alumni felt really appreciated at that reception,” acknowledged Emma Hamm, the Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement, while reflecting on an alumnus response after the Washington D.C. reception.
The Washington D.C trip took place on Oct. 24, with visits to USAID, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Homeland Security.
“I went to USAID, and really got an understanding of what it takes to work for a government agency,” said Hayley Peterson ’18. “ The ‘Berg alums who work there were great resources and were really candid about how to be successful in their field.”
Besides for just Peterson’s site, she also really enjoyed the reception: “The reception was intimate and I got to connect with multiple alums with varied backgrounds.” Hamm actually had a large role in planning the intimacy of the receptions, and she explained, “At the receptions there’s a pretty close 1:1 ratio of alumni to students. This allowed at any point a student to talk to an alum.”
The third and final trip was to Philadelphia on Nov. 6. The sites included Vanguard, Ernst & Young and Lincoln Financial.
“The trip as a whole was amazing. It was very informational for me, and I learned that there are many different options for me near my home for work,” explained Michael Bonaddio ‘20, who visited Vanguard. “After we left I went out and started to do some research on the company to see about the internships they offer.”
With the conclusion of this semester’s trips, The Career Center is definitely looking ahead to the future. “We are hoping Boston, maybe as our next one. We need some funding to do that, since it would require hotel rooms, and we would probably be more selective,” said Hamm. Smolko added on to Hamm’s point by saying, “We are also looking at smaller industry-specific ones, like Media and Communication.”
Smolko and Hamm also expressed their gratitude for Muhlenberg College President John Williams and Vice President of Career Advancement Rebekkah Brown. As Smolko emphasized, “This wouldn’t happen without their support at the end of the day.”
Of course, these trips are also about the students, who are encouraged to look out for next year’s Career Center trips, and experience what it is like to work in their industry of choice. Hamm ended on an optimistic note, “We want to get the word out to more students.”