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beccaBecca Smith (SoC ’17) is a Communication Studies and Spanish double major. Becca spent a day job shadowing a Northwestern alumnus at The Richards Group via the NEXT program.

Tell us about the organization and alumnus that hosted you. Why were you interested in job shadowing this alum?
I completed my NEXTernship with The Richards Group, an advertising agency located in Dallas, Texas. I shadowed Brad Todd, one of the Principals at The Richards Group. I was interested in The Richards Group because I wanted to get a feel for the advertising and marketing scene in Dallas, as I am very interested in working there after graduation. Brad’s position interested me because I could tell that he had experience and connections in every branch of The Richards Group, giving me overarching exposure to the advertising industry.

What did your day entail?
When I arrived, I was greeted by Brad and Kelsey Hoffmann, one of his team members. I chatted with different members of The Richards Group before sitting in on a brainstorming session. Much to my surprise, my opinion was encouraged and accepted with the same attention and importance as everyone else in the meeting. We took a tour of the building and I saw how much of an emphasis The Richards Group puts on a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The building includes a full-size gym, free healthy snacks, and exercise classes. After lunch, my day finished with sitting in on a few meetings and talking to people from different departments.

What was your biggest takeaway from your day? What new insights did you glean from this experience that will help you most as your prepare for or make decisions about your career path?
As cliche as it sounds, I left The Richards Group feeling at home. I already had a network of brilliant people in an amazing company, simply by spending eight hours with The Richards Group. After my NEXTernship, I realized just how important it is to think about how you and a company “fit” together. I had an absolutely amazing experience and I am so thankful to The Richards Group, Brad Todd, Kelsey Hoffmann, and the NEXT program for giving me this opportunity.

The Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT) matches Northwestern students with alumni for a day of job shadowing each spring, co-hosted by NCA and the Northwestern Alumni Association.