BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Wesleyan students interested in marketing and communications jobs spent their spring break in Chicago engaging with alumni who work in the field during the annual Career Immersion Excursion organized by the Hart Career Center. 

The Career Immersion Excursion has helped IWU students make connections in their field of interest through site visits and alumni speakers since 2016. Each trip centers around a different career field, with past trips focusing on healthcare, business and politics in locations like New York City, Dallas and Washington, D.C. 

Led by Hart Career Center staff Director Warren Kistner '83, Associate Director Kelly Bay and Assistant Director Patrick Zajac '18, 21 students attended this year’s four-day trip to Chicago during spring break.

Students sitting at a table in a board room
IWU students speak with employees at C+R Research in Chicago during the 2024 Career Immersion Excursion trip over spring break. 

Students heard from a panel of young alumni including Rachel White ‘22, Brad Blalock ‘19 and Rick Smith ‘22. The group toured multiple organizations with Titan employees, such as C+R Research, Circana, Kelly Scott Madison, Digitas, Starcom, Publicis, Access2Insight, Zapwater, Leo Burnett, Wilson and Avoq. The group toured the Chicago Bulls headquarters with the team’s Associate General Counsel Andrew Herrington-Gilmore ‘09 before attending a Bulls game. 

“Students learn directly from alumni and friends of the University while witnessing firsthand the success of our graduates,” said Kistner. “Our alumni have been incredibly generous with their time and talents.” 

President of Kelly Scott Madison Chad Maxwell ‘02 said students were engaged and grateful for the interaction with marketing and advertising professionals, and that it was rewarding to help students visualize future career possibilities. 

“What was most rewarding to me personally, however, was helping them connect the dots between who they are as people/professionals, the skills and experiences at IWU and liberal arts, and what the world of marketing needs,” said Maxwell. “Too often, graduates underestimate what they’re capable of, or what they should seek out in a career. Helping them see the inner workings of how businesses are built, how they fit, and the conviction, confidence and courage they can show is a real treat.”

Students sitting around a lobby table at a business in Chicago
During the 2024 Career Immersion Excursion trip to Chicago, IWU students toured multiple organizations in the marketing and communications field with Titan alumni employees.

A highlight every year, said Kistner, is when IWU alumni take small groups of students out to dinner for further networking and relationship building. 

“This opportunity is something that students truly value and we can market to prospective students. I hope that students have a clearer understanding of the various career paths they can take,” said Kistner, adding that the resumes of participating students are shared with professional contacts during the trip, often leading to internships and employment.

Michele Park '10, director of planning with Starcom under Publicis Media, said connecting with the IWU students was a “full-circle moment.”

“It was such a pleasure meeting all of them and to show them to the world of advertising and media. It was also a personal joy because my career at Publicis would have never started if it wasn't for the Career Center connecting me to an alumna. My hope for the students is that the connections they made on this trip will lead them to well-deserved great places," said Park.

While the trip was focused on careers in communication, advertising, marketing and public relations, the students attending represented a wide range of majors from acting and art to political science and philosophy. 

IWU students posing at the Chicago Bulls headquarters
IWU students toured the Chicago Bulls headquarters with the team’s Associate General Counsel Andrew Herrington-Gilmore ‘09 before attending a Bulls game. 

Aidan Herbert ‘24 is studying acting and hopes to find a job in sales after graduation. 

“I’ve always liked the personal aspect of making sales and building a strong connection with prospective buyers. I was absolutely able to gain experience on this trip in that field,” said Herbert.

Learning from and connecting with young alumni was Herbert’s favorite aspect of the Career Immersion Excursion.

“Everyone should take this trip during their time at IWU,” he said. “Everyone could take away something different and special.”

 English literature major Katie Staroszcyk ‘24 said she plans to pursue a creative career after graduation, and her goals were solidified by this opportunity through the Career Center. 

"I realized I could apply my creative skills in more than just artsy ways, especially in the business world,” said Staroszcyk. “The Career Immersion Excursion was exactly what I needed. The trip was very eye opening because I learned about a lot of roles that I didn't know existed for English majors.” 

Staroszcyk said she was interested by the way each organization they toured offered a different culture and atmosphere. 

“All of the alumni we met were so generous and you could tell they genuinely wanted to help you find your way. Networking with them was incredible and helped me visualize my path after college so much clearer,” said Staroszcyk.

For more information about upcoming career fairs and events, internships and additional career guidance, visit