UNC Asheville students met with Congressman Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) during the 2010 World of Work trip to Washington, D.C. It was one stop on the five-day excursion that introduced students to many career options in the nation’s capital.
UNC Asheville’s World of Work program, or WOW, as it is affectionately known by students, serves as an alternative spring break trip and career boot camp. Students travel to major cities to meet and network with UNC Asheville alumni. Students see firsthand the kind of career opportunities their education at UNC Asheville provides and get to ask questions about living and working in a major American city.
Now in its fourth year, World of Work is a joint venture of UNC Asheville’s Career Center and Alumni Relations Office. The program has taken students to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago to meet with alumni working for companies such as IBM, Time Magazine and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Each student receives a custom itinerary based on personal interests and career goals.
Eileen Buecher, director of UNC Asheville’s Career Center, said the program exposes students to career options they may have not considered.
“It has become a transformational experience for these students,” Buecher said. “They are immersed in networking, doing informational interviews and navigating the city. By the end of the week, my undecided students have options. A lot of them just feel empowered.”
Students say World of Work helps confirm what they have always wanted to do.
Prior to traveling to Washington in March, Catherine Williams, a senior History major, was debating a career in law. The World of Work trip cinched the deal.
“I had been discerning whether or not to go to law school,” she said. “The trip helped me decide that I really do want to go to law school and made me more interested in working for the federal government.”
Lisa Gillespie ’09, who went on the Chicago World of Work trip as a student in 2008, now works as editor-in-chief of Street Sense, a newspaper focusing on homelessness. She credits her World of Work experience as a main motivator to do more internships while in college.
“I met with a recruiting editor at the Chicago Tribune,” she said. “I went in very cocky, thinking I was the editor of the school paper and was doing all this brilliant work. She definitely gave me a wake-up call, and said, ‘you need to have more internships under your belt.’”
This year, Gillespie again participated in World of Work, but this time as an alumna, hosting a group of students at her office.