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Undergrads See Inside Big City Dream Jobs

Career Treks program helps students explore careers in D.C., N.Y., L.A., San Francisco
  • Undergrads tour newsrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms for career insight   
  • Northwestern Career Advancement program more than doubles in size
  • Career Treks give students a taste of what to expect from their chosen professions    

EVANSTON, Ill. --- On the journey to figure out the right career path, more than 100 Northwestern University undergraduates recently went behind the scenes at MGM, Google, Morgan Stanley, NBC Universal, LinkedIn and other companies. 

Now in its second year, Northwestern Career Advancement’s (NCA) Career Treks introduced approximately 115 students interested in learning more about the work they hope to do after graduation to Northwestern alumni and potential employers at top companies in Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles this month.

(Next up for NCA is Northwestern’s fall internship and job fair from noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29 and Wednesday, Sept. 30.)  

“The career trek has truly been one of the most exciting and informative things I have done since arriving on campus last fall. It has definitely given me more guidance in my career path,” said Lauren Duquette, a sophomore in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She visited the Wall Street Journal, Food Network, People Magazine and Huffington Post on the Media Career Trek.

“Engaging with these industry professionals in such an intimate setting made them more personable, making it easier for me to see myself in their shoes later on down the road,” Duquette added.

On the west coast Career Treks, students interested in film and television visited companies such as Warner Brothers and United Talent Agency, while those interested in the startup and technology sector got a taste of what they could expect at Uber and Thumbtack. 

Across the country, in New York City, marketing trek students toured advertising agency BBDO Worldwide and Colgate-Palmolive Company; media trek students were welcomed by staff at the Huffington Post and Viacom Media Networks; investment banking students got the inside scoop at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs; and finance students saw first-hand what it's like to work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange.

Finally, undergraduates pursuing careers in government, law and policy visited the Supreme Court and the U.S. Department of State, among others.

Many of the students shared their excitement at various venues -- from newsrooms, courtrooms and boardrooms to sets and stages -- via social media, which was captured on Storify.

The NCA Career Treks program brings students to multiple U.S. cities and myriad employers to offer a closer look at the industries and jobs they hope to pursue.

Students have opportunities to network and connect with Northwestern alumni, who may have dealt with some of the same questions the students grapple with when picking a career path. Jim Kolbe, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Steve Stark, president of television production at MGM, were among the Northwestern alumni students met on their treks.

“The treks allow NCA and Northwestern an opportunity to provide a signature experience for students outside of Chicago,” said Mark Presnell, NCA executive director. “NCA’s creation of the trek program was an effort to increase the breadth of jobs and internships by bringing students to locations, companies and industries that do not typically visit college campuses in the Midwest.”

NCA collaborates with a number of campus partners to coordinate the Career Treks, including the Northwestern Alumni Association, the School of Education and Social Policy, Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications, as well as Medill Career Services, the School of Communication and the Office of External Programs, Internships and Career Services, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Student and Alumni Engagement, the Institute for Student Business Education and the Investment Banking Club.

After a successful inaugural year, the NCA Career Treks program has grown to include more cities and more industries.

In 2014, three treks brought a total of 52 students to New York City and Washington, D.C., to explore careers in marketing and media, investment banking, and government, law and policy. The students visited 26 companies, agencies and organizations.

This year, NCA added finance in New York City to the roster, as well as Career Treks in Los Angeles for students pursuing film and television and in San Francisco for those interested in startups and technology. Media and marketing, previously combined, also became two separate treks. More than 50 companies were visited across the seven Career Treks.

“The goal of the Career Treks program is to increase the portfolio of options available to students and expose them to different pathways that lead to post-graduate success,” Presnell said.