Over two weeks in January, more than 80 students used part of their winter break to take part in a virtual version of MacExplore, a career readiness program offered by Career Exploration. 

The program kicked off with three days of career workshops. Students learned how to write  effective resumes and cover letters and build their professional networks. They also took assessments to discover their strengths and workstyles and improve teamwork and communication skills. 

A group of 60 alumni who serve as Career Helpers for the college were sourced to serve as mentors for the MacExplore students. “MacExplore covered many things,” says Elie Rizk ’24 (Jounieh, Lebanon), “but my favorite was talking and listening to alums. The fact that they came from very different backgrounds and class years was amazing. Many of them gave us very valuable advice that will help us move forward in our careers.” 

Holly Elwood ’90, senior advisor for the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mentored students from her home in the D.C. area. “Engaging with these students reminded me of the value of a Mac education—learning to think broadly and creatively, to work collaboratively, and to apply ourselves to improving the world we live in,” she said. “I would strongly encourage other alums to join the fun in the future!”

The following week, student teams worked on a case problem from an employer partner, Alight, formerly known as the American Refugee Committee. The Minneapolis-based organization provides health care and clean water, shelter, protection, and economic opportunity to more than 3.5 million people in 17 countries each year. 

Alight asked the student teams to come up with a project that provides more human-worthy services and dignified experiences for migrant families at the U.S./Mexico border and supports the host community (individuals and families who live at the border) as well.

“Working as a group towards a problem was one of the most helpful exercises I have participated in,” says Ishan Rayen ’24 (Bronx, New York). “Meeting with our groups and putting all our perspectives together to create a solution was refreshing and taught me how to work with a wide range of people…We were continually asking each other for advice and working to make it better. I also had never delved into the injustices at the US/Mexico border and this project with Alight showed me so much more and how little a person needs to do to make a difference.” 

Kaitlin Osterman ’22 (Grove City, Ohio), a geology and media and cultural studies double major, says MacExplore was “a great opportunity to connect with other students and gain experience in the nonprofit sector. I also found the career workshops and alumni counseling helpful both in developing our project solution and in beginning to think more specifically about my own personal career goals.” 

For their last MacExplore project, student teams presented their ideas to Alight, sharing virtual PowerPoints covering opportunities and risks, background research, costs, and potential funding sources. 

“We were very impressed with the student engagement and the thoughtfulness and detail put into their presentations,” says Katherine Jacobson, global team builder at Alight. “Despite the challenges of working and presenting virtually, the ideas were creative, well thought-out and clearly communicated. We are inspired to implement some of their ideas in the near future.”

View some of the MacExplore student presentations


February 11 2021

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