Last week, more than 50 first- and second-year Johns Hopkins University students boarded buses and visited workplaces across Baltimore to learn what it's like to work in city government, health care, and other industries.
Students visited FastForward U, a Johns Hopkins-led tech incubator, as well as City Hall, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Navigator Consulting, and finance firm Stifel. The visits were sponsored by the Center for Student Success and the Career Center.
For the students on these trips, meeting with representatives of city employers can be eye-opening—and door-opening.
"After my Baltimore-focused Intersession class, going to Kennedy Krieger Institute was totally different," said Jeffrey Ding, a first-year biology student. "It was really enjoyable. We got the whole picture."
Students at City Hall learned about working within an existing system, while students at FastForward U—located on JHU's East Baltimore campus—learned how the incubator could propel their own ideas. Students and staff discussed startup life, funding opportunities for student projects, and a new co-working space expected to open near the university's Homewood campus this fall.
Participants included sophomore Simon Zeng, who is working on AI dialogue as a research assistant; sophomore Kendall Free, who wants to make sure tech spaces support, not displace, local communities; and Kathy Hu, a sophomore biomedical engineering major who is working on setting up a design and ideation day for Baltimore high school students.
"I learned a lot about the resources for entrepreneurship and innovation available to students and how JHU is trying to work with startups in the community," Hu said. "This will be pretty useful to me in the future, in case I come up with any ideas I might want to pursue further."
The visits were part of the annual Second Year Summit, which included workshops on getting involved in Baltimore and creating a personal financial plan. Students were also encouraged to think about potential life and career plans based on their interests, not just their majors. Getting out of the classroom and into the city helped participants build on those workshops, find leads for internships, and make connections.
"Being in college and taking these risks, it's a great place to be," said Kevin Carter, FastForward U's student venture coordinator. "You try, [and if] you fail, you're still at JHU. You can try again."