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In March, two cohorts of ten Middlebury students utilized their spring breaks to discover and explore career paths in innovation and global affairs respectively, during two separate Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) Student Treks taking them to Boston and Washington, DC. 

Through regular development and facilitation of immersive learning experiences for students, CCI has established partnerships with the Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation, Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, Middlebury in DC, Center for Advising and Career Services at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (Middlebury Institute), and the Elizabeth Hackett Robinson ’84 Innovation Hub. These collaborations enabled CCI to offer two fully-funded Student Treks this year, ensuring all competitively selected students could participate. Ursula Olender, CCI’s executive director, explained, “CCI offers experiential learning programs designed to help students become world-ready and work-ready.” Each Trek provided students with networking opportunities and real-world exposure to purposeful career paths. 

DC Career Acceleration: Global Affairs Trek

CCI’s Tracy Himmel Isham and economics and environmental studies professor Jon Isham led our cohort in a Trek dubbed DC Career Acceleration: Global Affairs Trek. Their mission: to explore the complex landscape of global affairs firsthand.

The cohort, composed of Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs (RCGA) Scholars and Fellows was provided with a comprehensive 4-day experience that spanned academic, career, and global affairs domains. Including a mentorship program connecting the Institute graduate student mentors to each participant, their visits included 26 employer sites including Alliance for Peace Building, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the US Department of Defense/Pentagon, US Agency for International Development, The World Bank Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, OCEANA, Chemonics, Environmental Incentives, and Management Sciences For Health, to name a few.

A group of students in casual clothes stand smiling in front of the White House.
DC Career Acceleration Trek students enjoy some time at the Capitol on the White House lawn.
The DC Career Trek has been one of my most transformative experiences at the College so far. Embracing a young adult’s lifestyle in DC for an entire week will help me in the future as I transition between being a student and entering the workforce. Overall, I am glad for the connections I forged and the knowledge I acquired, and I couldn’t have asked for a better intro to adulthood and ‘Careers 101.

Boston Innovation Trek

Simultaneously, another cohort of Middlebury students embarked on the Boston Innovation Trek, led by CCI’s Jeff Sawyer and Tim Mosehauer and the Elizabeth Hackett Robinson ’84 Innovation Hub’s Heather Lovejoy.  

This cohort explored a diverse array of organizations, from startups like Merlin Labs to industry giants like Google. Through site visits and networking sessions, they gained firsthand exposure to the multifaceted nature of innovation across various sectors.

A group of students sitting at a dinner table. They are all turning to the camera and smiling. The table is set.
Boston Trek students enjoy dinner with Ted Truscott ‘83.

At the welcome dinner hosted by Middlebury Trustee Ted Truscott ‘83, students had the opportunity to connect with alumni and hear about their professional journeys. Throughout the Trek, these connections proved invaluable as students engaged in discussions received mentorship, and forged relationships with professionals working in innovation.

Initially, I thought innovation was confined to the private sector and technology startups. Now, I realize its reach extends across public and private spaces, spanning medical, technological, industrial, and academic realms, across organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Reflections and Connections

Both Treks offered students unique opportunities for personal and professional growth. Small group reflection dinners, networking sessions, and site visits facilitated connections with professionals and alumni, underscoring Middlebury’s commitment to immersive learning experiences and lifelong connections.

“The power of networking became evident as I learned about alumni’s professional journeys in small group settings, helping me to envision my own path,” remarked one participant. Another said, “This trip has made me think not only about what I want for my career, but also about what truly makes me happy. I am still on the journey to find the answer, but the experience has helped me start that internal conversation with myself.”

Treks like these serve as catalysts for students’ personal and professional growth. By bridging academic theory with real-world experience, Middlebury equips students with the skills, knowledge, and connections needed to thrive in an ever-changing global landscape.  Sawyer emphasized the Trek’s role in students’ career development, stating, “Each trek encompasses awareness building, access to employment opportunities, and active advocacy.”

Participants echoed this sentiment, noting the value gained from understanding industry trends and forging connections with professionals. Sawyer highlighted the importance of alumni advocacy in enhancing career prospects for Middlebury graduates.

“As alumni and students bond through shadowing, site visits, and other activities, they are positioned to advocate for one another,” Sawyer explained. “Each trek marks a beginning, fostering deeper engagement between alumni and the Middlebury community.”

Get Involved

Learn more about Student Treks (website), and the opportunities for career exploration, mentorship, and experiential learning through the Center for Careers and Internships (website), the Elizabeth Hackett Robinson ’84 Innovation Hub (website), the Center for Advising and Career Services (website), the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs (website), Rohatyn Center Global Fellows and Scholars, (website), the Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation (website). and Middlebury in DC (website). Whether you’re interested in global affairs, innovation, or other career paths, Middlebury offers resources and support to help you achieve your goals.