Seattle Exploration Trek Provides Students with Career-Building Opportunities

By Mаdeleine Nаkаmura

Scripps students pose with the Microsoft sign on a Seattle Career Exploration Trek

In a job market where effective networking and insider knowledge can make all the difference in jumpstarting one’s career, connections are a valuable resource—one that Scripps’ Career Planning & Resources (CP&R) is uniquely positioned to offer. Through initiatives such as the Career Exploration Trek program, CP&R connects Scripps students to an expanded network of alums and professionals from across The Claremont Colleges. 

Career Exploration Treks began in 2015, when Clare Shaw ’11 offered to host a group of students at her Bay Area employer. Since then, the program has flourished, thanks to involvement, engagement, and gifts from the broader Scripps community. During the Trek to Seattle in August—which was the first nonlocal Trek since the program’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic—12 students explored possible career paths through visits to businesses and organizations, networked with alums and industry professionals, and learned about life and work in the Seattle area.  

“The Trek was an incredible experience,” says Lillian Cowie ’26, who is majoring in economics and politics. “Our cohort walked away feeling confident in our ability to leverage our soft skills and liberal arts education in a formal setting. We visited a plethora of companies, so each cohort member met someone and learned something relevant to their field.” 

The cohort visited seven organizations, including Amazon, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Microsoft, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. During their visits, the students toured each organization’s space, met with its employees, and gained perspective on its working environment from panel discussions with the employees.  

Cowie felt that the most valuable insight she gained from the Trek was the importance of networking and building a personal brand. “The experience of meeting professionals in person is invaluable and cannot be replicated online,” she says. She intends to go into commercial real estate after graduation, and the Seattle Trek enabled her to refine her job search plans by connecting with professionals from CBRE, a large real estate advisory firm: “Hearing from them and learning about their company culture helped me understand what I am—and am not—looking for in an employer.” 

Beyond the business-level information gained from the Trek, the cohort also gained insight into what to expect from their personal path in a broader sense. “Networking with alums taught me that your career path can be a winding one, and it’s okay if you jump all over the place before you settle into a position you love,” Cowie says.

As part of the Trek experience, the cohort also represented Scripps during the Seattle Family Welcome Reception for incoming students, hosted by the Parent Engagement Office. Cohort members answered questions from parents and incoming students about the Scripps experience and gave advice about how to get the most out of student life on campus. “The Seattle Career Exploration Trek cohort boasted some of the most proactive, involved, and community-driven students on campus. To see these bright students come together with new student families at the Seattle Welcome Reception was the perfect example of the mentorship that is naturally built into the tight-knit Scripps community,” says Blaike Cheramie ’22, administrative assistant for Institutional Engagement. 

Finally, students on the Trek attended a 7C Alum and Industry Mixer, where they practiced their networking skills by making connections with 13 industry professionals, including software engineers, teachers, and content strategists from employers like Amazon and the Nature Conservancy. In total, the students met with 58 professionals over the course of the Trek, including 12 Scripps alums, one Scripps parent, and five alums from other members of The Claremont Colleges, making the Trek CP&R’s biggest to date.  

In addition to its professional benefits, the Trek served as a way for the cohort to connect with each other. “The Seattle Trek was also a great opportunity to make meaningful connections with fellow Scripps students, something I would argue is even more valuable,” Cowie says.

CP&R recently hosted a San Francisco Trek. Plans for future Treks include a one-day Los Angeles Trek in early November and a Washington, DC Trek in March 2024.