Lukas Flippo, Photo Editor

This year, the Office of Career Strategy is expanding their travel reimbursement program for seniors to include “career-related engagements” in addition to travel expenses.

In past years, the travel reimbursement program has reimbursed seniors pursuing careers in the nonprofit, government and arts sectors for interview and audition travel costs. With the pandemic limiting travel opportunities for the class of 2021, OCS has expanded the program to cover other career-related engagements — including membership fees for professional associations, conference registration costs and job board subscriptions. Although the program continues to be geared toward students pursuing creative careers, the additional opportunities for reimbursement have been extended to other career fields as well. Students may submit reimbursement requests for up to $200, with limited funds distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“OCS is thrilled about the expansion of our reimbursement program for seniors,” OCS Director of Strategic Initiatives and Public Service Careers Robyn Acampora wrote in an email to the News. “Due to the fact that the pandemic has greatly reduced the number of students who are traveling for in-person interviews, we wanted to open up the reimbursement fund to some other resources that we thought could assist seniors with their post-graduate plans.”

According to Acampora, the program currently plans to cover non-travel related costs for the class of 2021 only.

Derek Webster ’99, OCS senior associate director for creative careers, echoed Acampora’s enthusiasm for the expansion of the reimbursement program.

“There are many small but meaningful costs that quickly add up at the start of a career,” Webster wrote to the News. “Our office looks forward to making some of these expenses more digestible for our seniors, and helping them, as much as we can, to take those first confident steps into their professional lives.”

Webster noted that the increased opportunities for reimbursement come at a particularly difficult time for students interested in creative careers.

Despite the program’s focus on creative career paths, Webster wrote, the additional reimbursement-eligible expenses cover “a wide range of opportunities” outside the nonprofit, government and arts sectors. In particular, he noted that students interested in health professions or general portfolio-organizing services can find relevant reimbursement opportunities through the expanded program.

“For students interested in the health professions, there are several professional organizations that have student memberships,” Kristin McJunkins, OCS director of health professions advising and STEM Connect, wrote in an email to the News. “Members of health profession associations greatly enjoy mentoring students, and in this year with such a lack of in-person opportunities there are now many ways to connect virtually.”

Both Webster and McJunkins were involved in compiling a non-comprehensive list of potential career-related engagements eligible for reimbursement, which can be found on the OCS website. The list includes registration, membership and subscription fees for various associations and services — including the Professional Association for Design, the Student National Medical Association and the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits.

In addition to these opportunities, students can continue to seek reimbursement for travel expenses associated with interviews and auditions in creative career fields.

Laura Michael ’20, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in oboe performance at Rice University, was reimbursed through OCS last year for audition travel costs.

“The Travel Reimbursement Plan allowed me to travel to take auditions for Masters in Music programs,” Michael wrote to the News. “Taking auditions can be expensive — between flights, Ubers, and hotel rooms, I probably spent about $500 per audition. The Travel Reimbursement Plan was great because it relieved me of at least a part of that burden.”

The travel reimbursement program began in 2014.

Zhemin Shao |

Zhemin Shao covers the University's endowment, finances and donations. He previously covered the Office of Career Strategy. Originally from Seattle, WA, he is a sophomore in Silliman College.