CP&R Networking Treks: Spring Break Trip to D.C. Links Students to Careers in Government, Policy

Last month, 10 Scripps students took a break from classes to explore policy, government, and nonprofit careers during their spring break. From March 13 to 16, Scripps College’s Career Planning & Resources (CP&R) team led its fifth Networking Trek in two years with a visit to Washington, D.C. Students got the chance to meet with representatives from seven area organizations.

Rachael Bratlien, CP&R associate director, says one of her goals while planning trek visits is to give students a feel for what drives the economy of the host city, but activities are also reliant on Scripps contacts. In Washington, the group visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Trust for the National Mall, Freedman Consulting, National Geographic, and Partners Global. The trek also included a networking mixer, a personal branding seminar lead by Brigitte Connell ’06, brand strategist at the marketing company HZDG, and a panel discussion with four recent Scripps and Claremont McKenna College graduates employed at the Advisory Board Company.

Particularly memorable for many students was meeting Dr. Dwandalyn Reece ’85, curator of music and performing arts at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in September 2016. Joelle Leib ’17 says Reece gave trekkers a tour of the museum while it was closed to the general public, including the exhibition she curated about African Americans in the music industry.

“Dr. Reece’s work and career exemplifies the value of interdisciplinary studies and its application in the ‘real world,'” Nimrah Imam ’17 says.

For the students on the trek, opportunities to meet alumnae in various stages of their professional careers were invaluable.

“As a first-year student, I am more than inspired by all of their achievements, and I am even more motivated to make the most of my time at Scripps.” Vicky Lu ’20 says. “The most important takeaway from the trip was hearing how what I choose to study or major in is not what creates a lasting impact—rather, it is the critical thinking skills and the process of learning that makes Scripps students unique.”

Current senior and fellow trekker Jennifer Lehr also enjoyed exploring the amazing things alumnae are doing and discovering the “special bond” of the Scripps education.

“I think that people tend to discount the alumnae network because it’s such a small school, but there are so many incredible alums,” Lehr says.

“I got the sense that any one of the women we met would bend over backwards to be of help to us, and that’s a great feeling to have as I get closer to graduation this spring.”

Not only did the trek allow participants to network with alumnae and professionals, but it also gave CP&R the chance to show off the power of Scripps’s liberal arts education. Bratlien says the College’s Core Curriculum and other interdisciplinary offerings equip students with abilities to synthesize ideas, understand context, and address problems and solutions from multiple angles. These skills prepare them for careers in the policy, government, and nonprofit fields the trek explored.

“One of the pieces of feedback that we almost always get from the hosts is ‘Oh my goodness, they ask such fantastic questions,'” Bratlien says.

“I think that even in these short two hour [visits] the students demonstrate that they are bringing something unique and are willing to engage and ask thoughtful questions.”

Emily Long ’16 says the experience in effective time and project management she gained at Scripps is constantly useful in her job as a marketing associate at the Advisory Board Company.

“Scripps students tend to be exceptionally bright and inquisitive, so they’re always a joy to be around. It’s encouraging to meet with a group of students from various class years, majors, and backgrounds that have a mutual desire and real potential to change the world for the better,” Long says.

CP&R organized these visits in partnership with the Office of Alumnae Engagement and through the Scripps Community Network, the College’s alumnae database, which is also available for current students to search. Bratlien emphasizes that these treks would not be possible without Scripps’s enthusiastic alumnae.

“One of my favorite parts of organizing these treks is the resounding yes that we get when we reach out,” Bratlien says. “I think that’s a testament to the kind of alumnae we have that there are so many who are willing to say, ‘I want Scripps women in my organization.'”

Past treks have visited media, entertainment, health, and tech organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. As for future trips, Bratlien says, “We’re currently targeting Chicago, New York and San Diego for future treks, but we are open to traveling wherever we have a critical mass of alumnae hosts in locations of interest to students.” For more information about the Career Exploration and Networking Trek program, or to volunteer as a host, please visit the CP&R website.