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Guided by Alumni, Students Make Career Discoveries in Nation’s Capital

Group at White House
Students pose in front of the White House during their Career Immersion Excursion to Washington, D.C.

March 28, 2017

During the Hart Career Center's 2017 Career Immersion Excursion spring break trip,19 students and five Illinois Wesleyan staff members visited Washington, D.C. for four days of employer site visits, panel sessions, alumni socials and professional networking with more than two dozen IWU alumni.

Students learned first-hand about working in government, public policy/advocacy, the nonprofit sector, law, healthcare administration, and the intersections of government and business. The Career Immersion Excursion program is made possible with generous support from the Carswell family and from kind contributions from participating alumni and employers.

Students returned from the trip bursting with newfound confidence, appreciation for Titan alumni encouragement, and relief that their career journeys will be both personal and successful. Some excerpts from their evaluation forms follow:  

Why IWU alumni are awesome:

“I was amazed with the opportunities to talk with and ask the alums questions. I was also happily surprised with how willing they were to help us and how they encouraged us to get in contact with them….It was a humbling experience to see how far most of the alums have come, yet they are really grounded…..I was very impressed with the quality and the number of alums who helped. I think they were very helpful and had a lot of advice to offer.”

Figuring out a very personal career path:

“This trip helped me narrow my focus on what I’m passionate about, and it helped me figure out the career moves I need to make now…..I am now thinking of taking a gap year or applying to AmeriCorps or Teach for America.…..I have set my sights higher and am very motivated to achieve those higher goals.”

IWU alumni are really nice, too:

“The Alumni Reception was my favorite. Networking is not something that I am very confident about, but this event made me much more comfortable….I enjoyed the small group dinner because it was a nice way to get to know the host in a more personal way. He was very open about everything and we had a really good time. This made it more comfortable to talk to him and I feel like I can reach out to him at any time….The panels were all great. The alumni speaking were incredible and very kind.”

First-person reflection:

Political science major Veronica Torres Luna ’19 wrote this short reflection about her experience:

“The Career Immersion Excursion poster was taped onto the walls of Memorial Center among a sea of other advertisements and notices, both old and new. I was not sure if I should apply or not. What if I didn’t get in? What if there were other more qualified students than me? I was worried about the cost of the trip and how competitive would be to get in.

Soon, however, I found myself sitting in the Welcome Center at the Pre-Trip Workshops, learning about networking, the alumni we would meet, the places we would visit, and that the cost of the trip was almost completely covered.

From our arrival on Sunday afternoon to our departure on Wednesday evening, I felt I was exposed to a world of opportunities! From education and healthcare policy to international litigation to nonprofits, the panelists working in these fields were informative and gave sound advice on life and careers. The one I remember, best, however, was from Mark Israel ’91. He told us, “Don’t try to figure out what you’re going to do forever. Figure out what you’re going to do next.”

After he said this, I looked around and could see that the other faces, especially the seniors, turned from yellow to a flesh color. Every alum we met told us the same thing, and that’s when I realized the value of this program, at least for me.  

I used to see Washington, D.C. through the eyes of a scared young lady because it was a formal place full of successful people. Now, I know that there are so many alumni out there willing to help me succeed. I love the atmosphere of a city with young people. I now thank myself for applying to this program.”

 

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Photos courtesy of Adriane Powell and Warren Kistner