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NCA Career Treks Help Students Network & Explore Industry Hubs 

We always provide an equitable way for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit some of those places.”

Alyssa Thompson

Northwestern Career Center Assistant Director of Employer Strategy
Financial Assistance Available for Treks to NYC, DC and LA

Traveling to New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles with a group of college students might sound stressful for the Northwestern staff member responsible for organizing the trip. 

Ask Alyssa Thompson, the Northwestern Career Center’s Assistant Director of Employer Strategy behind the NCA’s annual Career Treks program, and her biggest challenge might be just how focused her students are on networking and meeting employers. 

“Being Northwestern students, sometimes they’re like ‘Well we have another networking opportunity that we’ve set up on our own,’ so I’m always very impressed,” Thompson said. “We really want students to explore during this trip in addition to the events that we set up.” 

The NCA Career Treks provide Northwestern students the opportunity to meet and network with employers in different industry hubs across the country, including New York City (Finance), Washington D.C. (Government & Policy) and Los Angeles (Entertainment). 

By leveraging alumni connections and considering feedback about the careers that are of interest to students, Thompson and the NCA team schedules a range of networking events for Northwestern students in each city.  

McCormick sophomore Yuru Wu traveled to New York City with NCA as part of the Finance Career Trek. He said the program was a great way to network with employers in an industry where meeting face-to-face with finance professionals isn’t always easy.  

“The opportunity to speak with people is huge given the competitive nature of the process,” Wu said. “I also had four coffee chats with Northwestern alums that I reached out to and then I even had some time to meet up some friends who live in Manhattan.” 

The trips are organized to fit each industry's employment timeline, considering when students need to apply for internships in each career path. 

“For example, on the finance trip that I lead, students in their sophomore year who are interested in investment banking already need to be applying for internships that will take place during their junior year summer,” Thompson said. “So that trek is primarily designed to help students decide whether they want to apply for those internships, and we visit employers who are currently recruiting.” 

One of the most unique aspects of an NCA Career Trek is how much autonomy students have to explore the cities on their own and learn about living in these industry hubs.  

Thompson said that the most confident feedback she gets from students is how they are always looking for more time to network. It’s a big reason why Career Treks are designed to visit as many employers as possible while also giving students freedom outside of the trek schedule to explore and network.

Students are responsible for booking their own flights to each city, while on past treks, NCA has reserved a block of rooms at comfortable and convenient hotels located in the heart of each city for students to purchase, in addition to providing public transportation cards for students. 

Financial assistance is available for any student with a demonstrated need. 

“We always provide an equitable way for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit some of those places,” Thompson said. “That’s what is really cool for me - getting to see some of our international students visit a place like New York City for the first time. That’s always a really rewarding experience for the NCA team.” 

Students can apply for Career Treks via Handshake by submitting a resume and essay response. Application information and participating organizations are shared on the NCA website and social channels throughout the year. 

 Wu recently signed an offer letter with a bank where he will spend the summer after his junior year at Northwestern. He said his experience traveling with the Career Trek program embodied much of what he believes college should be about. 

 “If I hadn’t done this program, I never would have experienced what it’s like to work in finance every day on the 47th floor of Rockefeller Center,” Wu said. “College is such a great time to try different things and take full advantage of programs like Career Treks.”