UChicago students network around the world during winter break

Career trek took students to seven countries, 18 cities in U.S. to explore post-graduation opportunities

First-year student Srichi Dalai said going was “one of the best decisions I made.”

Second-year student Tomas Ibarra said it helped him “answer fundamental questions.”

Third-year student Maria Reyes Maldonado said she left the experience with “deep knowledge about specific issues that I had never even thought of.”  

Dalai, Ibarra and Reyes Maldonado took part in this winter’s UChicago career treks. More than 430 students in the College spent part of their winter break traveling in groups to explore their career interests and network with employers. 

These immersive experiences are organized by the University’s Office of Career Advancement, which this winter offered 21 career treks in seven countries and 18 cities across the U.S. Each trek focused on opportunities in a particular career field. 

Ibarra traveled with a group of his peers to Paris for a career trek focused on the humanities. The group visited a diverse lineup of employers, including the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

“One particularly impactful visit was the American Library in Paris,” said Ibarra. “I saw how a career in the humanities could be a great blend of hands-on work with traditional creation and innovation.”

Ibarra also said he was fascinated by a presentation from Nelson Graves, the founder and president of News Decoder, a media education organization. After learning more about journalism from Graves, Ibarra is now considering a career in the field.

“He showed us that a career in journalism means having a constant curiosity and wonder at the world around you, and how to foster such a spirit in your work,” Ibarra said. “His passion for a diverse array of subjects mirrored my passion for discovery and learning, which has made me significantly more interested in a career in journalism.”

Dalai participated in a financial services trek to New York. Before the trek, she had primarily been interested in consulting. She enjoyed studying events in the markets for her economics courses but had assumed it would be difficult to break into the finance industry without prior background in the field. 

After visiting firms like J.P. Morgan and HSBC on the trek, she is now on a new path.

“This trek definitely altered my perception of the field,” said Dalai. “This experience afforded me exposure to so many different types of financial sectors – family practice, private equity, global markets and more. This trek showed me most importantly that there is no ‘ideal’ background when approaching finance; rather, there are many paths that can lead to the ideal career.”

For her next step, Dalai is excited to apply for finance internships and recruiting programs.

Reyes Maldonado traveled to Accra, Ghana, for a global health trek. She and her peers explored a diverse range of career paths in global health, including research, policy and project development.  

“The biggest highlight of this trek for me was the visit to the U.S. Agency for International Development office,” said Reyes Maldonado. “I had never considered a career in foreign service because I always assumed it meant working as an ambassador or in international relations, but listening to our hosts talk about their roles as health officers showed me a whole new way of getting involved in the health promotion of other countries.”

The trek inspired Reyes Maldonado to apply for a USAID fellowship program that supports graduate study, hands-on experiences and full-time opportunities with the USAID Foreign Service.

After the trek, Reyes Maldonado is heading into her job search with new confidence.

“Now that I have a better idea of my career goals, I no longer dread thinking about the future,” she said. “Instead, I now look forward to beginning my post-college planning.”

Career Advancement will offer another series of career treks during spring break 2023. Students can sign up for the treks listhost for announcements on the trek lineup and application timeline.