Chika Okere was in a slump. Although the first-year student in the College had wanted to pursue a career in medicine since taking her first biology class in eighth grade, she had lost passion and focus for her goals.
But she discovered a sense of optimism after recently attending a unique College networking event for first-year students, where she listened to UChicago alumni working in health care discuss their professional journeys and share career advice.
“I was able to once again see why I am passionate about medicine,” Okere said. “I could hear their passion for their work, and this struck a chord in me. It was as if I was being introduced to the medical field in a new light. This was different from wanting to be a doctor in middle school—now I could actually see myself doing it in the future.”
Okere is one of more than 700 first-year students who attended Taking the Next Step, an annual conference-style career exploration event. It includes alumni-led panels on more than 20 different industries—from arts and entertainment to science and technology—as well as networking and breakout sessions that teach students career skills such as interviewing and writing cover letters.