Career Exploration Program 2023 Recap: Words of Advice and Youth Impact

Say Cheese! Everyone poses for a group picture in Koret Quad, outside UCSF Neurology, Mission Bay 

Choosing a career path can be as intimidating as it is exciting, and for most youth, understanding the full breadth of the careers they can pursue is near impossible. In 2020, during the height of the lockdown, many of the internships that were once an integral part of Enterprise for Youth’s summer programming became unavailable. We were fortunate enough to be able to recruit and organize panels of professionals from different career sectors and offered these panels as part of our Career Exploration Program. Since then, we have continued to offer the Career Exploration Program as one of our regular summer internships. 

The Career Exploration Program is a four-week-long internship intended to prepare youth for their future careers by providing them with job readiness skills as well as exposure to career pathways. Youth tour businesses, attend weekly career panels and talk with professionals, go on field trips, do training exercises, play games, and workshop their resumes. Youth are placed in smaller groups, where they can discuss their experiences from the week and ask questions in a more personal setting. The groups are run by Program Assistants (PAs), who act both as moderators and mentors to the interns, supporting them on their path to success. This year, we offered career panels in the sectors of healthcare, green careers, business, tech, and the arts.

Interns test their gardening chops during Week One at Stern Grove

Week One

The Career Exploration Program kicked off on Tuesday, June 6, at McLaren Park. Youth met their groups and PAs and discussed their goals for the program, what “career search” meant to them, and began brainstorming their resumes. 

“During this program with Enterprise for Youth, I have learned a lot of advantageous job-readiness skills. I also learned more about different career paths and job fields through panel discussions (that was personally my favorite part).”

– Isabella Sanchez, 16

Week one was focused on exposing interns to careers in the healthcare sector. Youth learned that there are many ways a person can work in healthcare, whether that’s as a doctor, a laboratory scientist, a hospital safety manager, or an entrepreneur. The diverse backgrounds of our panelists on this week’s career panel reflected this. Each speaker had their own take on what it means to work in healthcare. 

One of the researchers from UCSF Mission Bay gives a tour of the facility

Later, the interns visited the UCSF Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neuroscience Building, where they saw a fantastic view of the city from the rooftop of the building. UCSF Neurology provides treatment to patients and conducts research simultaneously. The interns spoke to professors, researchers, research coordinators, and neurologists to learn more about how the program operated.

“I learned a lot when we toured the neurobiology department at UCSF; it’s okay to not know what to do. Go with what you feel like. I struggle to plan for later in life. Choosing a career seems really difficult, so hearing that was reassuring. This program is a good experience, and has helped me plan for the near future.”

– Julien Souther, 15

Week Two

At the Green Careers Panel during week two, the interns were separated into breakout rooms with their PAs to hear from professionals working in fields related to the environment. Upon meeting the panelists and hearing about their work, youth learned about a wide range of career options that support the common goal of improving our planet. One of the interns, Cesar Roque, later expressed to her PA Elsa Li how exciting it was hearing from the professionals.

“I loved the Green Careers Panel. I’m really interested in biology, and there was a marine biologist, Don Rothaus, who spoke. That was cool because [marine biology] is a field I’m considering due to its hands-on nature.”

– Cesar Roque, 15

Katherine Kennedy walks youth through an exercise during the public speaking event at Dolores Park

Also that week, the interns took a trip to a public speaking event at Dolores Park, where they had the chance to work with storytelling expert Kathryn Kennedy to improve their public speaking skills. The workshop had three parts. First, the interns broke into smaller groups where they shared facts about themselves and rated their comfort level with public speaking. They then spent 15 minutes on a writing prompt designed to make them look at public speaking in a new light. Finally, they were asked to share something they had learned.

“I learned that I can be more open during public speaking.”

– Jamie Lei, 15

Marine biologist Don Rothaus (bottom, center) speaks about his most exciting projects during the green careers panel

Week Three

On Tuesday, June 20, the interns heard from six professionals from various business sectors, including marketing, small business, professional consultants, and product managers.  Several Enterprise for Youth board members participated on the panel as well as an Enterprise alum, each bringing their own unique take on the field. The professionals introduced themselves and explained their careers, giving an overview of their day-to-day work life and offering valuable insights to the interns. Many interns showed their interest in the speaker’s respective fields, asking excellent questions about their roles and seeking advice.

Youth thank their speakers as the business panel concludes

“Getting to ask questions during the career panels was the reason I widened my career interests. I really learned a lot.”

– Doris Castro, 16

Later that week, the interns were divided into two groups before heading to the Mission district, where the groups visited two separate Chase Bank locations. They were given a brief tour of the locations before the main event. In groups of four or five, interns practiced their interview skills with the staff. They were asked a series of common interview questions, concluding with valuable feedback and suggestions from Chase staff. Afterward, the interns sat down for a lesson in finance, going through the types of banks, bank accounts, and methods to protect themselves from fraud.

Chase employees conduct mock interviews

“Doing a mock interview was really educational. It prepared me for the kinds of questions that are asked and what the experience is like. Going through that process of interviewing, even if it was just practice, will definitely help me in the future when I have to interview for a job

– Rosa Paniagua, 15

Week Four

As the Career Exploration Program drew to a close, the interns attended their last two panels. For the fourth week, we put together a great group of professionals with experience in the tech and art sectors, respectively. Tuesday that week the interns attended the tech panel, where they heard from seven professionals from a host of companies including Apple, Deloitte, and Salesforce. On Wednesday, the interns attended the art panel, comprised of five professionals ranging from an exhibition designer from the SFMOMA to the founder of an interior architecture and design studio. 

Placed in individual breakout rooms, the professionals shared about their first jobs, their college journey, and their career journey since then. Many interns asked thought-provoking and in-depth questions as their interest in both industries grew over the course of the panel.

“Before the Career Exploration Program, I didn’t have any idea of what I might be interested in, but CEP has exposed me to a lot of different fields. When I attended the tech panel, I learned about working as a product manager from Avid Khorramian, and it made me realize that’s what I want to do.“
– Jack Lawrence, 16

For the last day of the program, interns, PAs, and Enterprise staff gathered at Chinatown Restaurant to celebrate the end of the program and all of the hard work our interns had done. The interns, working with their smaller groups and their PAs, gave a slide presentation highlighting what they learned, and sharing a few of their favorite moments. Afterward, they were presented with certificates to commemorate their completion of the program. It was an event filled with congratulations, appreciations, and reflections, as youth looked back on how much they had grown professionally and personally in the past month.

“I was surprised that I gained so many new skills through this program. I knew that this program would be beneficial for me, but I didn’t know that it would help me this much. This program allowed me to be more talkative and confident. I’ve also learned many useful skills that I can use in the future.”
-Natalie Zhao, 15

(Top left) COO Carlos Solis and CEO Nínive Calegari applaud our interns for their hard work. The interns (remaining pictures) pose with their certificates 

All of us at Enterprise for Youth would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to our youth, who approached the speakers and program with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and openness, and demonstrated such a deep commitment to learning. We’d also like to thank all of our amazing speakers as well as the staff from the onsite field trips for sharing their time and their knowledge. And finally, we’d also like to thank our awesome PAs, who are Enterprise youth themselves, for giving our interns a safe space to discuss what they had learned and what they were thinking, and providing our interns with the kind of support only a peer mentor can.

Let’s toast to this year’s Career Exploration PAs! Senior program director Meghan Smith-Chang poses with them at Chinatown Restaurant 

Keep reading to hear some pieces of wisdom from this year’s speakers!

Words of advice from this year’s speakers

“My biggest takeaway from life is that people at the upper levels of companies are not any different from you. You can do it too!” – Marian Macindoe, Head of ESG Stewardship, Parnassus Investments, green careers panel

“It can be hard setting emotional boundaries as a healthcare provider. There is a need to care for patients with an open heart, but it is also important to have limits and take care of oneself.” Rebecca Watters, MD, Baywell Psychiatry Group, healthcare panel

“If you are indecisive on which major to study in college, just choose the major that you like at the moment. It’s fine if you don’t end up working in that field.” – Daniel Guerson, Consultant, Deloitte, tech panel

“In order to send a compelling message with marketing, you have to understand people and what drives them. Good marketers are strong communicators, strategic, analytical, and always curious.” – Joe Sinha, CMO, Parnassus Investments, business panel

“Your supervisors are there to guide you. If they’re not giving you advice, don’t be afraid to hold them accountable. The fact that you are a youth does not mean you can’t advocate for yourself.” – Jonell Molina, Program Officer, SF Arts Commission, art panel

Career Exploration Panelists 2023

Healthcare Panel:

Daniel Burnett, Theranova

Will Hernandez, Gilead

Jean Junior, Boston Children’s Hospital

Clementina Manio (Dr. Tina), Pediahealth

John Reid, Center for African American Health

Alyssa Reyes Roeder, Genentech

Rebecca Watters, Baywell Psychiatry Group

Kristine Yallico, Alameda Health System

Calvin Yim, Calvin Yim DDS (private dentistry practice)

Climate Careers Panel:

Tony Brunello, CA Policy Advisor

Miguel Dimas, SF Rec and Park

Marian Macindoe, Parnassus Investments

Deanna Pratt, Kevala

Don Rothaus, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife

Cynthia Wetmore, US Environmental Protection Agency

Business Panel:

Donna Boyer, Teladoc Health

Andrés Franklin, Swing Education

Buffy Maguire, Lady Falcon Coffee

Kathryn Money, Brilliant Earth

Brian Ngo, Deloitte

Joe Sinha, Parnassus Investments

Tech Panel:

Liz Allen, Exer Urgent Care

Becky George, Hypothesis

Daniel Guerson, Deloitte

Avid Khorramian, Salesforce 

Amiya Patil, Salesforce

Richa Randeria, Salesforce

Reeve Thompson, Apple 

Art Panel:

Fernanda Carlovich, SFMOMA

John Manning, State of Flux

Beatriz Martinez, Studio 415 Interiors

Jonell Molina, SF Arts Commission

Sarah Nock, SF Arts Commission

Fernanda Partida Ochoa, SFMOMA

By Francis Orkin (blog intern) and Jennifer Tan (communications intern)

By Francis Orkin (blog intern) and Jennifer Tan (communications intern)