Help Students Discover Their Passions through Career Exploration Treks

Trek students at the California State Assembly.

When most students were enjoying a break from academic coursework, eleven eager Scripps students traveled to Sacramento during fall break to learn about career opportunities in government, policy, and public affairs. They attended sessions with lobbyists, private philanthropic foundations, and a coalition of nonprofits, among numerous other companies and organizations. Students also networked with Scripps alums, parents, and potential employers. This was all possible thanks to the Office of Career Planning and Resources’ (CP&R) Career Exploration Trek.

The Career Exploration Treks program began in 2015 when Claire Shaw ’11 approached the CP&R team and offered to host a group of students at her company in the Bay Area. Shaw’s goal was to give Scripps students the opportunity to learn about careers in technology from individuals who work in the field. To make this vision into a reality, Rachael Acello, interim director for CP&R, inaugurated and developed the Treks program into what it is today. Each Trek typically lasts three days, with students visiting up to three companies each day. In the past three years, CP&R has traveled with students to Sacramento, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. to explore careers in fields such as politics, technology, science, entertainment, and more.

The Treks program is made entirely possible by the enthusiastic involvement of the Scripps community. Scripps alums and parents have been critical resources as Scripps looks to expand its network in popular industries and localities. “We need people who are engaged and willing to make introductions, open doors, and advocate for students,” says Acello. “Scripps alums and families are always enthusiastic volunteers and serve as inspiration for our students.”

Aside from personally connecting with students on Treks, alums and members of the Scripps community provide the funding that makes Treks possible and accessible for Scripps students. Gifts cover all lodging, meals, and local transportation in the destination city. M.R. Rangaswami P’19 made a commitment to fund the Bay Area Tech Treks because he noticed an absence of women in technology through his role as an investor.

“[Tech companies] need great new recruits, and Scripps students bring their talents and skills to help these organizations diversify their workforce. This is a win-win-win for Scripps, the students, and the tech industry,” says Rangaswami.

The Treks have yielded profound success in connecting students to employers, exposing students to different fields, and giving them the confidence and networking skills needed to distinguish them in the workforce. CP&R surveys students before and after their Trek visits, and students invariably report positive results. “We’ve seen a consistent increase in student confidence and perceived ability to build their networks and their ability to clarify career goals moving forward,” says Acello.

Alexis Osifo ’22 credits the Sacramento trek with inspiring her to pursue law school after graduation and giving her practice networking with industry leaders. “I definitely improved my networking skills,” she says. “I’d never networked in a professional setting, so this was new and helpful.”

These networking skills have served many Trek participants well over the years. A number of students who participated in the initial Treks have gone on to secure internships and jobs at some of the Trek host companies. Many of these students now serve as hosts for the program. “We see this wonderful, cyclical pattern of students making connections for internship or job opportunities during their time as Scripps students,” says Acello. “In return, they step up to the next cohort of students as alums.”

Considering the vast success that the Treks program has enjoyed, Acello hopes that Scripps can continue to offer it in the coming years. However, due to the limited funding for the Treks, CP&R is turning to our generous community to ensure the sustainability of the program. Rangaswami recognizes the importance of continuing to fund programs such as Treks:

“The reception from companies after the Bay Area Tech Trek was overwhelmingly positive, but I realized that you can’t just do this for one year and expect tech companies to recruit at Scripps,” he says. “Programs like this have to be done consistently to be successful, and that’s why I decided to make a multi-year commitment.”

While the Treks are largely accessible thanks to generous gifts from the Scripps community, students still have to pay for their transportation to and from each Trek location. “This often means that students have to pay for a flight, and we don’t want that to be a barrier for students to attend or even apply,” says Acello. Her hope is to have this transformative program fully funded.

Your support can ensure that CP&R provides opportunities that are accessible to all students and allows the center to plan three unique Treks each year. Click here to make a gift to CP&R or contact [email protected] to learn more.

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