Career Speaker Series

Every high schooler must face the daunting reality of choosing a career path that will ulti- mately decide the rest of their future. In order to help students explore their interests, the Cur- riculum and Career Education programs of the Palo Alto Unified School District hosted their annual career speaker series over the course of a week in mid-January. This year’s round of ca- reer speakers saw professionals from a variety of backgrounds, from carpentry all the way to environmental science.
For many students, the career speaker series provides valuable insight into what work is like in the career they’re interested in. “It was nice to get that kind of insight because you can’t get it
anywhere else,” junior Kaley Chong said.
Nurse Phil Polansky believes that his ex- perience in the field can help students steer clear of obstacles that they could face in their careers.“First and foremost I think is avoiding the mistakes of others. That’s the most impor- tant thing I think that the students I hope would
take from it is,” Polansky said.
One piece of advice shared among career
speakers was to encourage students to try to get job experience in the field that interests them.“I highly recommended people to volunteer, be- cause if you volunteer in the medical field, you can get a better idea of what it really means to be in the hospital and working with patients,” Polansky said.
Environmental scientist Debbie Mytels re- minds students that the career they are interest-
ed in may not be the one they end up pursuing, as she was a journalist turned scientist. “One valuable lesson of listening to adults that have had a lifetime experience is that those opportu- nities come along the way and you can have an opportunity to change and shift what you’re do- ing,” she said.
For Chong, the lectures provide a unique way to see other students who share similar career interests. “It’s kind of interesting to see who is interested in the same field,” she said.“It kind of makes you feel like you’re not the only one who wants that type of career.”
Polansky hopes that students will use what they’ve learned from the speakers. “I hope stu- dents don’t just blindly say, ‘I want to be a doc- tor’ without really understanding what’s entailed in being a doctor or a nurse,” he said.