While the global pandemic has limited in-person interaction, online career exploration is on the rise thanks to welcoming alumni from ComArtSci. The ComArtSci Field Experience program is going virtual, bringing real-world insights and networking to Spartans who are studying from home.
Beginning in September, students from all ComArtSci majors can sign up and log on via Zoom to visit more than a dozen companies across the U.S. in the program. Virtual field experiences offer a behind-the-scenes look at professional industries, in free events that are accessible to any student with an internet connection.
Virtual Field Experiences
The virtual field experiences invite students to participate in free, one-hour remote visits to big brand businesses located in major metropolitan areas. A ComArtSci alumnus facilitates each session, providing insights on the industry and the host company through personal career path stories, case studies and discussion. Each session includes plenty of time for Q&A and networking with the host and other participants.
“Anyone can call in from wherever they are to wherever they want to be,” said Meredith Jagutis, ComArtSci senior director of development. “Our virtual field experiences are totally accessible and free-of-charge, with no barrier to entry other than finding time in your schedule. Ideally, if you have the curiosity and will to attend, you can.”
As an additional perk, students can receive co-curricular credit via My Spartan Story. Students must attend at least five virtual field experiences to qualify, and share their observations through the interactive platform that captures MSU student experiences outside of the classroom.
“The program is extremely flexible,” said Jagutis. “At the same time, students are gaining some solid, professional development skills that will be of value now and in the future.”
Exploring Out and About
Virtual field experiences fill a vital need for students to be exposed to opportunities outside the classroom, Jagutis said.
Before MSU switched to online instruction in March to help contain the novel coronavirus, ComArtSci students could participate in week-long field experiences to host companies in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta. About 150 students take part in the immersive experience annually to get a feel for what it would be like to work for a particular company and live in a particular city.
Because of public health restrictions, the two trips scheduled for May 2020 were converted to virtual experiences. Those trips, said Jagutis, inspired the ComArtSci alumni community to take action and orchestrate the variety of field experiences offered this fall.
“Our alumni were quick to recognize how important it is to continue career outreach to our students,” said Jagutis. “They saw the success of the two spring trips, and knew it was possible to develop workable, enriching virtual experiences that leverage the strengths of remote conferencing.”
Going virtual enabled the college to expand visits beyond larger markets that have become home to robust numbers of ComArtSci graduates. In addition to those traditionally highlighted, students can also explore companies in markets that include Seattle, Dallas, Cleveland, Miami, and Nashville.
Networking with Spartan Alumni
Jagutis said ComArtSci alumni are continuing to step forward and fill the calendar with virtual field experiences through December, and to schedule sessions for the upcoming winter and spring.
Among the fall experiences are those hosted by alumni at Electronic Arts, Google, Rapp, Royal Caribbean, Jackson, Starbucks, National Geographic, Adobe, Quicken and PepsiCo.
“All our alumni hosts have such interesting and exciting career paths,” Jagutis said. “They’ve all expressed interest in giving back, sharing stories and encouraging students. This definitely reflects the ‘pay it forward’ attitude of our alumni. Many have said they wish this type of experience was something that existed when they were at MSU, and they are thrilled to be a part of it.”
Students interested in participating in a virtual field experience at ComArtSci can explore and sign up for programs online. Alumni who would like to learn how they can host an event at their company can contact Meredith Jagutis, ComArtSci senior director of development at firstname.lastname@example.org.