Learning Community students travel to Chicago

CSE Learning Community students, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Jenna Huttenmaier, and alumnus Matt Bergh pose together at Google in Chicago.
CSE Learning Community students, Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Jenna Huttenmaier, and alumnus Matt Bergh pose together at Google in Chicago.

Computer Science and Engineering students had a big opportunity to take the university’s Big Trip to Chicago last weekend.

This is the third year the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Learning Community program has offered students the chance to travel to Chicago for its “Big Trip,” an annual weekend that provides Learning Community members with the chance to explore the city and its career opportunities.

“Students have the chance to make lasting connections with not only their peers, but with professionals in their area of interest,” said CSE recruitment and retention coordinator Jenna Huttenmaier.

Eighty-four students from various university Learning Communities joined this year’s trip Feb. 22-24. Twelve of those students were from the Computer Science and Engineering Learning Community, “Programming and Building the Future.”

Though the Learning Communities all travel to Chicago together, activities vary for each group’s focus. For CSE students, the weekend included a tour and lunch at Google's Chicago office with CSE alumnus Matt Bergh. It also included another tour of Signal, a cross-channel marketing startup.

“Our students met with a representative from each department in [Signal] and then sat down with five software developers to chat in depth,” Huttenmaier said. “I was thankful we were able to tour a startup and then a more traditional company like Google so that students had the chance to compare.”

The students were thankful too.

“I really enjoyed the conversation with the guys at Signal,” said Learning Community mentor Melanie Powell. “They talked a lot about the pros and cons of working at bigger corporations versus smaller startups and how you might work at many different-sized companies throughout your career.”

In addition to the two company visits, students were able to make stops at a few tourist destinations, including Millennium Park and the Chicago 360 Observatory. They also got to see a Blue Man Group performance and an improv show at iO Theater.

The Programming and Building the Future Learning Community includes about 40 CSE freshmen who are grouped together in the University Suites on campus. They’re also grouped together in the same courses, receiving the same assignments and professors. Learning Community mentors, like Powell, are available to offer them support, hold weekly study sessions, and assist in planning semesters.

“I've really enjoyed getting to interact with all the freshmen in the Learning Community and getting to hear about their plans, goals, and dreams for the future,” Powell said.

She also said she thinks the Big Trip will help freshmen begin to prepare for both their future careers and courses.

“The Big Trip is a great opportunity because students get a chance to learn about different companies and areas they could work in,” Powell said. “The students had some awesome questions for the developers that I think helped them relate what they're doing now in their classes to what they could be doing a few years from now as a career.”

More details at: https://go.unl.edu/sqro