Anxious. Nervous. Excited. This is how Emma Adcock of Nashville felt two years ago when her parents dropped her off at the airport, bound for a Washington, D.C. Industry Immersion trip. Months before, she had been so nervous that she backed out of an interview entirely, removing herself from consideration for a similar trip to New York City. Yet somehow, she mustered up the courage for this trip and followed through. With her suitcase in her hand and her heart in her throat, she stepped onto the plane.
“It’s a very daunting thing,” Emma said. “I didn’t feel like I was put together enough to be on the trip. I just didn’t feel like I was enough.”
As it has been for hundreds of C&IS students, stepping onto that plane would launch a pivotal transition for Emma to develop professional confidence and build essential, personal skills to help her excel in an industry setting. The Industry Immersion program at C&IS is a professional development opportunity for University of Alabama students to travel to leading job markets, explore various industry settings and engage with experienced alumni and industry professionals.
The program places motivated undergraduates in the middle of board rooms in the heart of some of the country’s most dynamic cities, swapping business cards with its top talent. Trips include tours of agencies and organizations, coaching in professional development and Q&A time with industry tycoons. Like Emma, not every student is ready to step right into a career in that environment — few students are. The Industry Immersion student leadership team prepares them by developing itineraries that introduce participants
to company cultures, city life and a variety of roles.
“Once students are accepted for a trip, we work with them to make sure they’re ready,” said Ellora Lalla, the director of professional development on the Industry Immersion student leadership team. “We coach them on how to act in professional settings, ask strategic questions, tailor their resumes, professionalize their social media and craft their elevator pitches.”
The result? Students march into well-known, global companies such as Disney, Ketchum, Edelman, Google and Time, Inc., with poise and determination. By the trip’s end, students have a pile of business cards, traction for their career and a supercharged mission upon returning to campus. Some students have even landed jobs and internships on the spot.
“After Industry Immersion trips, every student has a story,” said Dr. Litsa Rivers, director of experiential learning and outreach at C&IS. “The stories aren’t all the same, but they all include an element of self-discovery, either defining exactly what they want their career to be or learning they should pursue a different path. Both are equally valuable.”
These trips serve to complement the educational process. Students who are actively learning about the full spectrum of communication in their courses are transported beyond the university setting to witness the environment firsthand. The textbook skills and fundamentals take on a new and deeper meaning as they see it, feel it, reflect on it and experience it with their peers.
As a C&IS Board of Visitors member and longtime advocate and host of Industry Immersion, Lindsay Garrison believes in the value of this transformative student experience. As proof of her dedication, Garrison spearheaded a Board of Visitors endowment of $100,000 to help create more opportunities for all C&IS students to participate through scholarships.