Why You Should Take Advantage of Real World Tours

By Kathryn Cambrea

(Photo courtesy STAC Career Development Instagram): Attendees of STAC’s “Real World Tour” to Good Morning America pose for a picture.

With COVID-19, it is an understatement to say that everything is different. The Office of Career Development at St. Thomas Aquinas College has always held “Real World Tours” for STAC students. In essence, Director of Career Development, Maureen Mulhern, along with additional STAC staff, accompany students on trips where they learn about companies that they can potentially intern for or work for in the future. Often, students hear from employees of the companies and gain insight. These trips serve as valuable, instructive opportunities for students. Although trips may have ceased due to the pandemic, the Office of Career Development continues to provide students with opportunities to advance their career journeys, such as the upcoming virtual mock interview event, which will be held on Oct. 22. As someone who has been on a few “Real World Tours,” here is what I have learned from them and how they have benefitted me. 

  • Your name becomes known.

The first time I interviewed Ms. Mulhern was when I wrote an article about STAC students visiting Good Morning America on April 12, 2019. Prior to the event itself, I sat down with Ms. Mulhern and asked her questions about it. I learned from her that a former professor of the college’s husband, Eddie Luisi, is Stage Manager of Good Morning America. As a result of this interview, Ms. Mulhern connected me with Mr. Luisi so that I could interview him. He answered my questions on the day of the event itself in Good Morning America and proceeded to give all of the students a tour, as well as career advice. From there, I even interviewed a couple students on the trip. I sent the article to Mr. Luisi at a later time, and he remembered who I was: this is because I personally reached out to him and expressed interest in having him as one of the sources for my article. Without this “Real World Tour,” he would not know my name.

  • You become acquainted with the Office of Career Development.

I first met Ms. Mulhern when she was a guest speaker during the first semester of my freshman year in STAC 101. I will never forget how she said that if she does not know who we are, she cannot recommend us when she hears from recruiters. What does this mean? Communicate with the Office of Career Development. One way you can do this is by signing up for these “Real World Tours.” With the temporary absence of “Real World Tours,” you can achieve this by reaching out to Ms. Mulhern and attending virtual events. If an opportunity comes up where a company is looking for a college student with your major, she will gladly recommend you for the position. The key is that you need to utilize the resources that the Office of Career Development provides and that you must take the first step! The first step could be simple; you introduce yourself to Ms. Mulhern, even if it is in a virtual capacity. By attending “Real World Tours,” workshops, or virtual events, the Office of Career Development will learn more about you. 

  • The trips are free!

Two “Real World Tours” that I went on were to Good Morning America and to Hachette Book Group in New York City. Both of these trips were free! You hand in five dollars when you sign up, but you immediately receive it back the day of the trip. Commuting to the city costs money, so you should definitely take advantage because “Real World Tours” don’t (at least not for you).

  • You learn what the companies are looking for.

I remember when visiting Hachette Book Group, we heard from an employee in the human resources department who told us all about the recruiting process and what internships are offered through Hachette. We even heard a panel of employees speak from an array of different departments. (Read more about the benefits of the trip to Hachette Book Group in this article on The Thoma). When I interviewed Ms. Mulhern about this trip in September of 2019, she commented on the benefits of not only going to Hachette, but going on any “Real World Tour.” “It [going on the trip and asking questions] could build a good connection with a recruiter at the firm to open some doors for you and you learn from this trip what they really are looking for in a cover letter when you apply and what they are looking for when they interview you,” Ms. Mulhern said. Evidently, by not going on such a trip, you are placed at a disadvantage. After all, if you end up applying for an internship with a company that you visited, you should definitely say that you have been there in your cover letter and in your interview. Also, remember the specific names of who you talk to while on a “Real World Tour.” Although different companies may look for different qualities in potential internship candidates, they all value someone who has taken the time to get to know the company and what it is looking for. Going on a “Real World” tour is one way to do just that. 

  • You are exposed to the working environment of the company.

It is one thing to research a company, which is crucial. However, when you visit it, it is entirely different. What you see, who you speak with, the dynamic between employees, and other factors must be experienced in the environment itself, whether it is in-person or virtual. It cannot be obtained from simply reading about the company. Trips give you the opportunity to find out if the environment meets your expectations and if you can see yourself working there. Deciding that you do not want to work somewhere is just as beneficial as deciding you do. It means you are one step closer to finding out what you want to do. Ms. Mulhern has said of any trip held through the Office of Career Development: “You really get an idea of the facility and what life is like working inside that kind of organization.” She also added, “No two trips are exactly alike.” Therefore, by going on multiple trips, you compare and contrast the working environments, and see which ones appeal to you!

  • You learn about more jobs, internships, and career paths.

Ms. Mulhern has noted that one company, like Hachette Book Group, offers jobs and internships for people of different careers and majors. For instance, she has acknowledged that you do not have to be an English major to intern for a book publishing company. For that same article that I wrote about Hachette Book Group, I interviewed Professor Monica Wendel, who teaches classes in English and Creative Writing at STAC about the benefits of such a trip. Professor Wendel said, “This is a really good trip if you’re studying accounting, communications, any kind of business. They look to hire people from all different kinds of majors, so any of the business majors, communications, marketing, those are all really, really good majors.” She even added that students of hers in the past who went on such trips ended up receiving internships with book publishing companies. Thus, you not only learn about opportunities from these trips, you can actually earn them! Locating a job or internship can most certainly be attributed to going on a “Real World Tour.”

  • Most of all, you have fun!

Aside from all of the benefits that “Real World Tours” provide for your career, you enjoy a day out with friends. Collaborate with your friends about “Real World Tours” you are interested in going on, and get together for lunch afterwards to talk about it. Also, you have fun while you are on the tour itself. Watching Good Morning America for instance was amazing because I would love to pursue a career in journalism, communications, or writing one day. Therefore, I learned a lot. At the same time, I also had fun because the show was entertaining. There was live music, and two celebrity guests were on the show: Dwyane Wade and Jennifer Garner. The experience was professional and social. You are bound to have fun because you are signing up for something that you are interested in. For me, that is signing up to see a live program and experience the bustle behind the scenes of how it is produced. It is also learning how a book comes together, and all the people who have a role in its publication. For you, that may be something entirely different. But, I can assure you, that once “Real World Tours” come back, you will find a trip that appeals to you. 

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