By: Mandy Lew
Excitement surged at United Way Bay Area’s virtual On Track Career expo as youth attendees geared up to connect with professionals from various industries through one-on-one coaching and live demos. This virtual event brought together nearly 30 young adults, exhibitors, and volunteer coaches to expose young people to different career opportunities and pathways.
Once in their breakout rooms, youth enthusiastically asked volunteer coaches about their jobs and respective industries. Some youth, however, were a bit shy.
“Even though some people would be nervous to talk or speak out, the adults reach out to get the youth to participate and as a shy person I appreciate that. I also like a little competition which makes people more motivated,” says Necessity Young, a youth participant.
Next on the agenda was a demonstration and talk with Kelsey Gielen and Natalie Hurtado from the East Bay Regional Park District. They opened their presentation with a fishing knot demonstration and a discussion of career pathways in outdoor recreation, sharing their own job experiences. Questions from youth soon came flooding in:
“What has changed in your job due to the pandemic?”
“Do you think you have a pretty stable job?”
“Is your job boring enough because of the pandemic?”
Attendees continued bringing their curiosity into other sessions, including a workshop with Prescott Reavis, Vice President of the San Francisco Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects who introduced youth to careers in architecture and design. After leading youth through an activity of how to complete a high-rise building–more questions arose.
“What’s a typical day for you?”
“Who pays you?”
“Do you have a signature way of doing something? Is there something that you include in every piece of work that you do?”
“What’s the tallest building you’ve ever built?”
Towards the end of the session, volunteer coach, Erik Kristjanson reminded youth to “never stop asking questions!” “That is a great life skill,” he encouraged.
We thank all who participated in our virtual On Track, making it a successful and fun learning experience for all involved. As Alesha Sparks, a youth attendee shared, “I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot of valuable knowledge. I learned how to tie different kinds of knots and at first, I thought it was hard but the employees from the park guided me through it and encouraged me. The architect taught me about different buildings and the process of building them. On Track was fun and enjoyable and I learned a lot of useful information.”