Since its establishment in fall of 2014, the Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) has worked hard to assist students in their search of interests, connections of their skills and knowledge, and create meaningful involvement to their communities, as stated in their mission. This fall break, the CEO invited four students on an all expenses paid journey to Washington, D.C. to begin making graduate school and professional connections.
“The trips are part of [New College’s] new NovoNetwork program,” Director of Career Services Kim Franklin said in an e-mail interview. “[…] NovoNetwork program is a collaboration between the CEO and the New College Alumni/ae Association and the funding for NovoNetwork travel comes from the CEO. The programs are designed to create professional connections for students in the selected locations.”
Throughout the four-day excursion, which gave preference to thesis students, Novocollegians got to meet with alumni working in a multitude of fields. Additionally, they were able to attend an alumni gathering hosted by a Washington, D.C. local and alum, Hazel Bradford.
“Meeting with alums and hearing them talking about their career and life experiences was quite inspiring,” thesis student and trip attendee Qi Zhao said. “Each one of them has their own story and they are all willing to share with us and also listen to our stories as current students. They gave us suggestions on post-graduate planning and resume building and encouraged us to find opportunities in D.C.
“Meeting with them actually motivated me to work harder and never give up,” Zhao said.
Aside from the alumni gathering, the students individually met with as many as 10 to 15 alums each at cafés or restaurants.
“The students liked meeting the alumni who had been able to successfully establish personal and professional lives in D.C.,” Franklin said. “They also felt it was valuable to experience D.C. first-hand to help them understand whether the city was manageable. They were surprised by how liveable D.C. feels.”
Students were not just limited to alumni events in the nation’s capital. They were also given time to explore the city between meetings giving a nice mix between meetings and downtime.
“Exploring D.C. is also an essential part of the trip, at least in my experience,” Zhao said. “D.C. is a beautiful city especially during the fall when leaves are starting to change color.”
Zhao extended her stay an extra three days after the CEO-sponsored trip ended.
“When I stayed by myself, I talked to locals, walked down the streets and got a sense of feeling of D.C. as a city.”
On Oct. 17, the students who attended the trip spoke with the alumni board about their experiences and expressed only positive comments about the trip as a whole. Students were able to make connections that will benefit them in the future when searching for jobs and even internships in the spring of 2016.
Due to its success, the CEO has plans to make NovoNetwork travel a recurring program available to all students, while improving the experience and tailoring it to each student’s interest.
“We plan to offer NovoNetwork travel opportunities over fall and spring break, as well as to the LSAC Law School Forum,” Franklin said. “We will announce the dates and locations for spring soon.”