Albion College's dual focus of a rigorous liberal arts education coupled with career preparation—encapsulated by the four-year program known as the Albion Advantage—serves as a foundation for all students. It takes them on impactful journeys in the classroom as well as out in the field in the form of valuable internships and off-campus study.
And for a dozen students pursuing marketing and management, it also meant a two-day semester-break "Career Visions" trip to Chicago to meet with Albion alumni in those fields—to learn about internship and job opportunities, network, hone their interview skills, and learn some of the ins and outs about living and working in the Windy City.
"I learned a great deal about how to make connections with people and how to use those connections, how to go about getting interviews and how to act in those interviews," said Bailey Hornsby, '13.
"I think it really helped to see these companies' offices to get a feel for what their environment is like," added Alicia Rigoni, '13. "It has opened me up to new career ideas and new companies."
The group's itinerary included visits to ESPN, Ogilvy & Mather, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Papyrus, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and Red Frog Events.
"I was impressed by the professional interactions of our students with our alumni," said Dr. Mary Jones, director of Albion College's Office of Career Development. "Students prepared by researching the employers—through their Web sites, LinkedIn, and other sites—and the students asked great questions."
As thorough as that advance research may have been, the students quickly realized that nothing beats actually visiting the workplace, seeing things firsthand, and meeting the people who essentially make things happen day in and day out.
"We hear how important cover letters and résumés are, but I really did not understand the importance of little details until I talked to some of the alumni," said Lauren Wysocki, '13. "The trip gave me so much insight that I would not have if I did not go."
The alumni got a lot out of the experience as well.
"The Career Visions Chicago visit was a great opportunity to host a group of well-rounded, diverse students who are committed to taking charge of their careers," said Melissa Caldcleugh, '03, manager, account services at ESPN. "Their eagerness, displayed through their engagement and thoughtful discourse, is refreshing to see as a hiring manager. My team of entry-level employees also enjoyed the opportunity to provide feedback and guidance to students in a position similar to the one that they recently were in themselves."
Jones said the Career Development Office aims to continue the Career Visions trips and expand them to different regional cities as part of continuing the Albion Advantage.
"Some students discovered new career paths while others reaffirmed their career goals. In all cases, the students loved traveling together and they recognized the lifelong career benefits of an Albion education."