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‘K to the Windy City’ Offers Students New Opportunities in Chicago

The 'Windy City's' skyline (Creative Commons). The 'Windy City's' skyline (Creative Commons).

While some students may be on a beach for Spring Break 2017, a few of their lucky peers will participate in the first K-Trek to Chicago.

Called “K to the Windy City,” the two-day trip will be an networking opportunity giving students the opportunity to meet with alumni, tour the facilities in which they work, and attend events designed to help them in their lives after K.

This program is the third in a series of K-Treks to different cities in the US. K to the Bay began in 2014 as a means for four students to travel to San Francisco “to learn about careers in entrepreneurship and high tech,” according to K’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) website. Since then, funding from alumni has allowed more students to participate, and in 2016 K to the Big Apple began as a way for students to learn about careers in finance, business, and economics in New York City.

This March, the CCPD is excited to offer 20 students interested in law, social justice, and nonprofit work the opportunity to better understand professions in these fields. They will participate in panels, networking events, informational sessions, and on-site visits alongside at least 100 alumni working in the Chicago area.

The significance and impact of the careers being highlighted can also be put into a broader geographical context, as students will have the chance to “talk about what makes Chicago unique,” says Valerie Miller, Assistant Director for External Relations of the CCPD.

“Being that Illinois is in its second year without a state budget, nonprofits in Chicago are facing a loss of funding”, says Miller. She explains that there is “incredible innovation going on” in order to fulfill those unmet needs.

In addition, K to the Windy City is distinct from its predecessors. Instead of being created due to the donation of funds, it was developed by looking at what additional fields students were interested in and financing a trip that catered to these career areas.

Although the application deadline has closed for K to the Windy City, the CCPD is brainstorming how to best maximize the educational value of each K-Trek. “The goal is how can students come back and share what they’ve learned with other students,” says Miller.

Past participants have given presentations upon their return, but Miller explains that the CCPD wants to find a more lasting way to recount the valuable experiences that students have had as part of the program, since they are good resources, who can help their peers to connect with the alumni they have met during the trips.

Video testimonials posted on the CCPD webpage and former participants serving as consultants to advise their peers are just a few ideas for how to spread the benefits of the K-Treks with a wider audience, but Miller says that the CCPD is happily accepting suggestions from anyone on campus.

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‘K to the Windy City’ Offers Students New Opportunities in Chicago