VSG and Career Center collaborate to help students ‘trek’ to local workplaces

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Claire Barnett

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, January 20, 2018. (Former Hustler Multimedia/Claire Barnett)

Allison Mendoza

Fourteen first and second year students participated in the Career Center’s first Nashville Career Exploration Trek Feb. 8 to learn more about different careers in multiple fields.

Nico Gardner, the VSG Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, and Jennie Marchal, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Career Center collaborated to form the program. Gardner came to Marchal early in the fall to discuss potential programs that served first and second year students who were either first-generation college students or were part of an underrepresented minority.

“There’s a knowledge gap that exists…their parents may not be able to help them write a cover letter or [tell them about] what recruiting looks like at a top 15 university, “ Gardner said. “They also may not have the same level of career exposure as opposed to another kid whose parents sent them to a pre-business camp.”

The day of the Trek, the group visited Warner Music Group’s Center of Excellence and HealthStream headquarters. Each workplace provided a panel of employees in different positions who spoke about where they started, how they found their current position, and what they enjoyed about the company.

“The big theme was their paths were not linear,” said Marchal. “They all got to WMG from different directions and found their way to a place where they could use the skills that they’d learned in an environment they really enjoyed.”

While any first or second-year student could participate, the event tried to incorporate into the experience resources and information that could begin to fill these knowledge gaps. The Inclusion Initiatives and Culture Competence and FirstVU publicized the event.

All of the available spots in the program were filled, and students gave positive feedback according to Marchal, leaving high hopes for improvement and continuation of the program.

The Career Center is currently accepting applications for a Public Sector Trek that will take place in Washington D.C. this May. Students can find out more about the program and apply through Doreways.
The Career Center has also started a new program called Secret Table, where students apply to have lunch with an anonymous Chief Executive or Senior Leader from various organizations. They are provided with five clues and the identity and position of the guest is revealed 15 minutes prior to the meeting. Previous guests include the Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen, UBS Global Head of Risk & IT Julie Shapiro, and CKE Restaurants Chief People Officer Joanna Shepard. Applications are currently open for the next secret table on March 15.