A 1x1 pixel from arttrk.
NEED HELP? Find Resources


Empowering Youth for Future Success

June 27, 2023

A female presenting individual seated wearing all red, a table in the background with red and the Target logo, the individual sitting down is speaking with another individual in all black with a black mask on.

Y.O.P. OnTrack Career Expo 2023 hits SF State

United Way Bay Area’s (UWBA) commitment to engaging youth and young adults in career exploration means we seize every chance to provide opportunities to build skills for the future. On May 31st, 2023, our Youth Opportunities Pathways (YOP) program organized our OnTrack Career Expo to do just that. This year’s event, held at San Francisco State University (SFSU), provided a space for youth to engage and connect with representatives from prominent corporate sponsors such as Waymo, AbbVie, and SolarEdge, as well as take campus tours. The event was also an excellent chance for companies to interact with the community. With a focus on equipping the next generation with essential skills and opportunities, the OnTrack Career Expo proved to be an invaluable experience for all involved.

Building Bridges to Opportunities

One of the main goals of OnTrack was to create the opportunity for youth to connect with representatives from corporations and organizations, many of whom help to sponsor the event. Companies like Callan, Target, Enterprise, and Texas Instruments, acted on their commitments to innovation and social responsibility by providing a platform for our community’s youth to learn about career opportunities. These invaluable face-to-face interactions allowed attendees to make meaningful connections and gain insights into the skills and qualifications sought by leading employers.

A female presenting individual with a sweatshirt that has the United Way Bay Area logo on it speaking to a group of individuals who appear to be teenagers who are congregated around her at a table with information on it.

“Investing in the community that we serve is a critical component of our business model. I grew up in Oakland. I’m a product of events like these… Everyone has different starting points, but it’s good to understand where they see themselves currently and where they see themselves in the future. What skill sets they [need] to learn and how. That’s what [students] gain from these events, from [us] – the blueprint and the understanding that ‘hey this is a possibility!'” – Brandon Odiah, Waymo

Having these companies present not only exposed students to potential career pathways but also highlighted just how much they are invested in the communities they serve and their future workforce. Engaging directly with industry leaders enabled youth to gain a deeper understanding of the qualities and competencies required to thrive in their chosen fields. Here’s what some of the students that participated in the event had to say about their experience:

“I appreciate how they come out and give us the resources that they have, that we should typically be reaching out for – they came and brought it to us.” – Joseph

“The highlight is just networking. There’s so many stands of different organizations, and it’s been great to hear more about them.” – Aaron

“Someone told me I could do advocacy and major [in business] and I could study here [at SF State]. Before I didn’t know where to go for college. Now I have an option!” – Sophia

Insightful Conversations with Industry Experts

One of the highlights of this year’s OnTrack was the panel discussion featuring industry professionals who generously shared their insights and expertise. These thought-provoking conversations delved into a wide range of topics, including emerging industries, career pathways, and the importance of mentorship. Attendees gained valuable knowledge and inspiration as they heard firsthand accounts of success and learned about the challenges faced by professionals in various fields.

A large room with many tables and many individuals seated at them watching what appears to be four panelists.

“As a Honduran citizen, growing up in Honduras and my experience coming to the [United States], I feel like I can relate a lot to what some of the students might be going through navigating the school system and getting a job after. Having other people that look like you and have similar experiences and you can see that it can be done is an important part of why I would want to be involved in [OnTrack]. I [hope] the youth take away a sense that there’s something they can aim for and attain. There’s so much opportunity, especially in the Bay Area.” – Alejandra Zacapa, AbbVie

Panel discussions are a unique opportunity for direct engagement for all. The diversity of the panelists’ identities, backgrounds, and experiences showcased the many paths to success, emphasizing the importance of perseverance, adaptability, and continuous learning and networking.

For a Bright Future

OnTrack 2023 was a catalyst for empowering youth and equipping them with the tools necessary for future success. Through panel discussions, display demonstrations, and the “ask-me-anything” segments, students engaged with corporate partners and volunteers, gaining valuable insights, expanding their networks, and discovering new possibilities for their careers.

As we look to the future, it is crucial that we continue to invest in the education, mentorship, and career opportunities of our youth and give them the tools that can reduce or remove poverty as a barrier to their potential. By providing platforms like the OnTrack Career Expo, we create an environment where young individuals can explore their passions, gain valuable knowledge, and connect with professionals who can guide them on their journey. United Way Bay Area remains dedicated to supporting youth and ensuring they have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive and succeed in an ever-evolving world.

You can help support these efforts by registering to volunteer at our events and by donating! Together, let us empower our youth and shape a brighter future for generations to come.

On Track 2023

On Track aims to expose youth to a variety of careers and connect them with adult mentors with similar lived experiences by featuring hands-on exhibits and career coaching.


Big blue text reading 'Thank you to our Supporters,