Networking event connects industry professionals

Business advisory board runs Career Conversations


Ruthie Posada

Sophomores Deo Shindano and Justin Colon learn from a guest speaker about an occupation they’re interested in March 8. The guest speakers came to educate students to assist them in planning their futures.

Ruby Stillman

After attending the Career Conversations event, which aimed to provide students with the opportunity to connect with professionals from a wide range of industries, junior Victoria Martinez said she enjoyed learning from the discussions she had.

“(The event) was trying to ask questions to get some more information toward how can I pursue my own goals with the support of your knowledge from the professionals they had. I really liked it,” Martinez said.

According to Kara Mueller, the career and tech education director for the district, the business advisory board she runs organized the Career Conversations event that took place in C350 March 8.

“This advisory board consists of college student members and business leaders helping with our pathways for our students. The second board meeting of each school year includes Career Conversations and networking with our students,” Mueller said.

Mueller said there was a broad variety of industries and career paths represented at the event.

“Today, we have people from engineering, a cultural liaison, postsecondary, healthcare, law enforcement, emergency medical, advertising, finance, project management — all these areas,” Mueller said.

According to Mueller, although it is not easy for students to reach out and ask genuine questions to adults, many are extremely grateful they did.

“For some students, this is so out of their comfort zone. So we really need people and teachers to advise and say it’s OK, anything you want to learn is OK,” Mueller said. “And once they do it, they are so happy they did it cause it sparks ideas that they’ve never thought of before.”

According to Mueller, the board communicated about the event to teachers and encouraged interested students to register in advance.

“We send out messaging to students through their teachers and to them directly if you are interested in having a career conversation in one of your interest areas, to sign up and come here for breakfast,” Mueller said.

Business advisory board facilitator and community relations leader Carrie Jennissen said despite the enthusiasm shown by the community, the biggest challenge for the board is lack of time.

“I think the hardest thing about putting this together and maintaining it is the sheer number of board members and staff. (There is) never enough time to do everything we want,” Jennissen said. “We have about four goals with about five action items under each, but students only have so much time, teachers only have so much time, so I think that is the biggest challenge yet. But the energy around it is amazing.”

Mueller said the event is important because it provides resources for students who otherwise would not have access to professionals in their area of interest.

“Not everybody has the opportunity to meet adults in a career, so the more opportunities we can give students — talking and learning about options — the better it is for them to have direction,” Mueller said.

According to Martinez, she feels fortunate she had previously known about the event and got the help of Mueller for her curiosity about a career.

“I connected with Ms. Mueller, the Career College teacher. I already knew her before, and she’s really great with connecting if you want to know more about any opportunity for any career path,” Martinez said.

Jennissen said this event shows the board is devoted to students’ well-being and future careers.

“Everybody in this room is so passionate about the students. This speed networking is the members’ favorite part because they love connecting with the students. They love sharing some of their own experiences, and they love understanding who our kids are and encouraging them for the workforce,” Jennissen said.