Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work at a Silicon Valley startup, a major New York financial firm, or a Hollywood studio? By taking a career trek with your university’s career services team, you can go on a field trip to companies just like these and see in person how they operate. In addition to getting a “day in the life” glimpse at how these types of companies work, you’ll also get the chance to explore jobs for students, network with industry professionals, and learn more about your chosen industry in a real-world setting.
Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of career treks for international students.
What Is a Career Trek?
Career treks allow students to travel to different cities or countries to visit companies and organizations in person. Think of it as a professional field trip: You’ll meet employees, take guided workspace tours, hear presentations, and participate in Q&A sessions with different organizational representatives. Along the way, you’ll connect with industry experts, gain a first-hand understanding of workplace culture, observe day-to-day operations, and more. Career treks also offer insights into which skills are needed to perform specific roles and how development projects work, and they showcase jobs for students (especially potential internship and full-time job opportunities).
During the pandemic, many career treks shifted online, and in some cases may still be offered virtually.
No matter the format, career treks provide an engaging platform to network with professionals in a setting that’s both low pressure and well organized. It gives you the opportunity to market your strengths to employers while learning about job openings, application requirements, and hiring timelines.
What to Expect at a Career Trek
The start of a career trek usually includes a tour of the company you are visiting and an overview of the general workflow and communication channels. You may learn more about the structure or hierarchy of the team, overall work environment, and business operations procedures. There may be small breakout groups for specific roles and departments, lunch and learn sessions, and time for Q&A with different representatives across the organization.
Many Shorelight universities offer career trek programs that enable students to directly connect with employers in the US. Here are just a few examples.
At Auburn University’s recent virtual career trek, students spoke with representatives from CNN, Macmillan Publishing, and Major League Baseball. Auburn alumni joined the trek to share their journeys from Auburn to their current roles.
The virtual event was organized in one-hour time slots. The first segment began with a Zoom call featuring five executive producers and senior business editors in CNN’s Atlanta and New York City offices, speaking with students about how the news industry operates. The second, with Macmillan Publishing, focused on how to make the most of the university’s career resources and what it takes to excel in the publishing industry. Company representatives also spoke about potential jobs for students at their respective organizations, including internships and full-time roles.
Career treks at Gonzaga University are offered in multiple locations in the US, including Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Spokane, and more. Students get to interact and learn from professionals at leading organizations, including Adidas, Amazon, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Google, Meta, and many others.
Gonzaga also provides a career trek in London, giving students an international perspective from companies such as Salesforce and Splunk.
University at Buffalo
A recent two-day career trek to New York City with the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning included visits to high-end housing projects, water and energy conservation projects, and One World Trade Center, the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex. Students learned from industry experts about regional transportation planning and participated in an alumni-led Career Conversations networking event to discuss how major firms in the industry operate and recruit graduates.
University of the Pacific
The Tiger Trek program at the University of the Pacific is offered twice a semester at no cost. Students gain an inside look into the operations of companies such as LinkedIn, Netflix, Roku, and more. In the most recent trek to Bloomberg in San Francisco, employees spoke about their job roles, Bloomberg’s work culture, the hiring process, and jobs for students, including available internships and externships.
University of Wyoming
The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Wyoming organizes three- to four-day career treks for 14 selected students. Activities include company site visits, networking events with industry experts and alumni, and opportunities to learn about engineering and applied science in a real-world setting. Students also visit organizations such as Apple, AutoDesk, Baker Hughes, Google, NASA, and more.
How to Prepare for a Career Trek
Career trek programs may vary based on your university’s policies, alumni connections, and resources. The itinerary of each trek may differ from previous ones, offering different experiences suited for your degree and overall career development. By preparing for a career trek ahead of time, you can make the most of your experience.
Before you begin a career trek, your university will share the details and itinerary in advance. You’ll find out about the specific locations, program duration, accommodations and meals, daily schedule, and the companies you are going to visit.
To prepare for a career trek:
Research the companies you are going to visit — Getting to know the companies in advance gives you a better understanding of their culture, operations, and overall management. You can also prepare a list of questions beforehand to ask a representative if you get the chance.
Choose appropriate attire for your trek — Check with your advisor about a dress code. If there isn’t one, business casual attire is recommended as the most appropriate for a professional setting. Checking the weather forecast of the area you will be visiting can also help you decide what to wear and whether you should take an umbrella, jacket, etc.
Have copies of your updated resume — Remember to bring your resume and portfolio with you in case you have the chance to share them with a potential employer. Your resume should include your most recent achievements and contact information, so hiring managers can get in touch if they want further information or to schedule an interview.
A career trek can provide a wider perspective on the job market, inform you about jobs for students, and help you realistically plan your career pathway. Once you complete a career trek, you can work on building a career development plan where you can identify and progress toward your career goals.
What Happens After the Career Trek?
After your career trek, you can use the information you learned to reevaluate your career plan and compare your current skills and academic background with industry standards. Figure out how you can meet the requirements of your potential employer and ways to set yourself apart from other candidates.
If any of the businesses you visited aligned with your interests, consider following up with the firm’s hiring representatives. If you do not have access to their contact details, you can speak to your career counselors or get in touch with the company’s human resources office to learn more about their organization’s goals, recruitment process, and career openings. Try to keep your follow-up message respectful, short, and to the point!
Once your career trek is complete, remember to apply your learnings within the classroom to enhance your learning experience and build the skills and knowledge to begin your career successfully. Shorelight’s Career Premium program provides additional courses and certifications, coaching and mentorship, and professional projects for you to enhance your skills and credentials and gain real-world experiences during your studies. Start working toward your dream job today!
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