By Briahnna Brown
Gabriella Luna, a junior studying systems engineering, was searching for a way to build her network and learn more about her career options during winter break.
She knew she was interested in the tech field, but was still figuring out exactly what she wanted to do. After hearing about Career Quest from her friends who went on previous trips, Ms. Luna did some research on the program last summer and felt the upcoming trip to San Francisco would be ideal.
Through Career Quest, 14 George Washington University students visit companies such as Facebook and Airbnb. Ms. Luna said the visit to Facebook allowed her to connect with the university recruiter, and they related their shared experiences being Latina. Their conversation felt personal, Ms. Luna said, and she has stayed in contact with the recruiter since.
"That's the best thing that came out of [the trip]—developing an actual connection with people who have made it this far in their life through a company I would see myself one day wanting to be at,” Ms. Luna said.
Career Quest is open to graduate and undergraduate students from all GW schools. Students also visit cities such as New York and Los Angeles, and most of the program’s expenses, such as lodging, are covered through grant funding. The application deadline for the summer break trip to Boston and the fall break trip to New York is at noon on Feb. 11.
The program gives students the opportunity to see if they would be a good fit at the locations they visit, said Staci Fowler, managing director of employer services with the Center for Career Services.
Ms. Fowler added that the program is an “amazing experiential learning opportunity.”
“It's an immersive experience that allows students to explore and gain insight into career fields of interest firsthand, travel to a major U.S. city, partner with current GW students outside of their respective school and meet with the vast network of GW alumni,” Ms. Fowler said.
Frank Kachmar, a senior studying international affairs and political science, said the trip opened his eyes to corporate culture on the West Coast. He said that many people were wearing jeans and hoodies rather than business suits, and the amenities at the Facebook offices were “basically Disneyland, yet you work in it.” Mr. Kachmar was interested in the legal world behind the corporate culture and hopes to work in legal consulting for companies such as these in the future.
He said he enjoyed meeting GW alumni at the companies they visited and during an alumni reception. Mr. Kachmar said he was encouraged seeing alumni from diverse backgrounds in careers that may not be exactly what they majored in, and it made him appreciate GW. The Career Quest program showed the group that there is something for everyone, Mr. Kachmar said, no matter their area of study.
"You don't necessarily need to be an engineering or data science major in order to have a meaningful impact in these companies,” Mr. Kachmar said.
“They’re looking for talent from people of every background, every major, because these companies are so enormous…everyone is really welcome and everyone can find their niche at these companies, which I thought was fascinating.”