For the first time since the program’s conception in 2005, the University of Richmond Office of Alumni and Career Services will expand its Spider Road Trips, an experiential program created to help students explore different career paths, to the West Coast. 

The road trips are designed for students to examine a variety of organizations on a closer level and see how they might fit in there. Additionally, they serve as an opportunity for students to explore industries that may not recruit heavily on campus. 

This summer, Career Services will take students to San Francisco, California, for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation road trip from May 14 to May 16. The two previous Entrepreneurship and Innovation trips have been to New York City. 

“I think it was only a matter of time until we expanded westward,” SK Parker, assistant director of career services, said. “In the past, our trips have been more centered on the Eastern Seaboard, mainly because our students have overall been drawn to the D.C. and New York City markets for internships and full-time roles. We wanted to give students opportunities to learn and connect where they saw themselves living and working post-grad.”

There are four road trips offered each year, Carrie Hawes, associate director of employer relations, said: Spiders on Wall Street, Spiders in Consulting, Spiders in Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Spiders in Marketing & Communication. 

The road trips that are offered are based on what students report as their highest areas of interest, Parker said.

During these multi-day visits, students have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the different industries and potential job opportunities through information sessions, guided tours of company headquarters and networking receptions with alumni in the related field and location.

"I went on both the Marketing and Communications Road Trip and the Fashion Friday Road Trip, and I think the trips really helped me with understanding how important networking can be," junior Kate Schlinke said. "I really liked that we were required to research the companies before going on the trip because it made it easier to ask questions and learn more about specific interests. I think it definitely is good practice for researching a company prior to a job interview."

Students attending the road trip to San Francisco will have the opportunity to visit with a variety of organizations, ranging from single-person startups founded by alumni to tech and innovation giants such as Google, Airbnb and Dropbox.

“We thought it would be best to expand our reach to alumni and organizations and to introduce students to the heart of entrepreneurship,” Hawes said. “So many people think of Silicon Valley when they think about start-ups, so this was a natural evolution.”

These road trips would not be possible without the help of the rich network of alumni located throughout the country, Hawes said. The first step in planning these road trips was to find a few Spiders in each field and geographical area. The team members then reach out, explain the event and ask whether the alumni would be willing to host a group of students at their companies. There has been a great response overall by alumni each year, Hawes said.

Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, has been supportive of the West Coast trip, Parker said. The Career Services team is also supportive of creating road trips that focus on science, biotech, healthcare and technology in the future.

“We have definitely seen students land internships and full-time roles from the connections they have made on these road trips,” Parker said. “Overall, I think trips like these give students the time and space to reflect on what path they are on and where they might like to go.”

Contact contributor Jessica Dugan at jessica.dugan@richmond.edu. 

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