The iSchool Immersion trips are uniquely designed to give the participating students an intimate and immersive experience with industry leaders all over the world. The curriculum of the iSchool provides students with a wide range of skills and potential career options and the Immersion trips are a great way of exposing them to a variety of careers and industries that they could enter into. Some of the trips are shorter and built to be fun, activity-packed, networking opportunities, but the longer, more intensive trips can also earn students credits towards their degrees.
Christopher Perrello oversees and manages all career-related events and programs for the School of Information Studies. He manages the day-to-day operations of career counseling, career programming, employer relations, career events, and alumni outreach. He also runs the Immersion Trips, including Euro-Tech and Asia-Tech, as well as all of the domestic trips. Perrello brings a life-long love for everything career related, and he is a natural and valuable fit for the Career Services department of the iShool.
“Each trip has its own identity. We want to make sure that we are bringing diverse groups on these trips. We want students to know that this is part of the learning process as well. The experiential learning through traveling and visiting different enterprises – that’s learning that can take you to a whole other level, and that’s what Syracuse University is all about,” says Perrello.
Finally being able to travel again after pandemic restrictions were relaxed, this year a group of 30 students went to NYC for several days. They visited the companies EY and FanDuel for behind the scenes tours and talks. During their time in the city the students were introduced to representatives from many companies, and the students were able to network in ways that are impossible while staying on campus.
They will also be going to Boston this October, Innovate Ireland during Thanksgiving break, and Spring Break in Silicon Valley in 2023, then a Euro-Tech trip in May which will start in London and goes all the way to Rome over the course of three weeks before flying back to the states. EntreTech will explore the entrepreneurial landscape of NYC in August of 2023, where students will learn about the process of growing a startup to a full-scale enterprise. The iSchool Immersion trips welcome students from all schools at Syracuse University.
Laura Chrissley is a Career Development and Immersion Specialist in Career Services at the iSchool. She works closely with Perrello to make these trips happen, and both of them get the chance to chaperone some of the excursions themselves. She notes that this type of series of “career treks”, to her knowledge, are only offered by the iSchool. There isn’t another college or university with partnerships to offer these kinds of immersive experiences.
When describing the latest trip that the Immersion program organized in NYC, Chrissley says, “The biggest piece for these trips is the alumni connection. We had people from IBM, Hulu, YouTube, JP Morgan, Disney, and a whole gamut of alumni that actually came to us.” They gave their time and the students were able to have a round-robin session where they could spend a chunk of time having a conversation with each of the alumni professionals. The students had been so used to COVID measures that the opportunity to connect in-person with people in positions that they are striving towards was really impactful.
Current iSchool student Mikayla Maria Vroon attended the NYC trip and says that, “This was my first time actually being able to network in person. I am currently a Sophomore, so most of my college experience has been limited by COVID. I’ve learned to successfully network and reach out to alumni online but this was my first opportunity where I was able to go up and actually shake their hands. There’s a much more personal connection being face-to-face.”
Andy Preglar is an iSchool alum working as a Content Manager at FanDuel, and helps to facilitate the Immersion visits from company’s side, has this to say about his experience with this program, “I got my first job because of one of these road trips, and did so because of iSchool mentors coaching me through networking so that my genuine excitement came through to those hosts. I want to provide any student who likes where I work to have that same opportunity to create a lifelong connection that could result in a starting point for a career, and show these students that there’s not a one size fits all approach to finding a career or what that career can look like in technology.”
Tessa Brody is a senior at the iSchool and also participated in the recent trip to NYC. She says that, “This trip enabled me to make new connections, practice my networking skills, spend time with my classmates from over the past few years, and make a few new friends for when I move to New York this August. I am fiercely proud to be able to call the iSchool my home and I am forever grateful for the opportunities this community has brought me.”