“Immersing myself in networking and career development for a few days, while uncomfortable at first, was exactly the push I needed.” –Joe Klein ’16

BY | Joseph Klein ’16
St. Louis, Mo.

While spring break is often thought of as a respite from school and real-life decisions, I spent my spring break on the 2016 MacConnect DC trip.

MacConnect D.C. is an opportunity for ten juniors and seniors to do intensive career exploration and networking with Macalester alumni in Washington, D.C. The Career Development Center and Alumni Relations partner in creating these trips, which include site visits, meetings with alumni, and time to schedule our own informational interviews.

We arrived Sunday night and began Monday with site visits to the Congressional Budget Office and the Urban Institute (a think tank that focuses on urban issues). There we met with alums that told us about their jobs, what living and working in D.C. is like, and how they made the connection from Macalester to their careers.

Those site visits continued on Tuesday, when we made stops at the U.S. Treasury and Dexis, a consulting firm started by a Macalester alumnus. The wide variety of these sites meant that everyone could take something from them, regardless of their academic and career interests.

The Urban Institute really stuck with me as a geography major and urban studies concentrator, and many of the Macalester alums who work there have interests similar to mine. That said, I enjoyed the chance to hear about the other workplaces which were new to me.

We ten students developed a strong sense of community along the way. Best of all, Neely Heubach from Alumni Relations and Kate Larson from the Career Development Center accompanied us on the trip, offering support and guidance along the way whenever we needed it.

During the trip, we had plenty of time to schedule our own visits and informational interviews with alums that had career interests similar to our own. I conducted a few informational interviews with people in fields that I could see myself going into—alums who work at the Department of Transportation, the Brookings Institute, and a few congressional offices. In fact, I was having a meeting in a Senate Office Building when President Obama announced his Supreme Court nominee, causing a flurry of activity and excitement.

The trip also included a networking reception to connect with alums located in the D.C. area. Throughout the trip, I received candid, helpful advice on breaking into these fields and by the end of the trip, felt much more comfortable networking than I ever had before.

I was nervous going into this trip, having been in a state of denial about my impending graduation. Post-graduation was too stressful to think about when I had papers and assignments due every day. But immersing myself in networking and career development for a few days, while uncomfortable at first, was exactly the push I needed to start thinking about—and even get excited for—life after graduation.

As the cherry on top, DC is an incredibly fun, exciting city. We experienced some beautiful spring weather and saw the famous cherry trees in full bloom. Despite our busy schedule, we made time to sightsee and explore the city.

While plenty of my other friends went to exciting, warm places around the globe for their break, I’m beyond grateful that I got to go to D.C. on this trip.

March 28 2016

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