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Career Speakers Series offers insight into unique employment pathways


The Career Speakers Committee organized guest speaker events during PRIME on March 21 and March 22 to give students insight into popular career paths. The speakers, including Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Sunil Kulkarni and New York Times best-selling author Julie Lythcott-Haims, emphasized the importance of pursuing a career based on one’s passions.

Founder and CEO of the accessibility-focused Magical Bridge Foundation Olenka Villarreal said she hopes that students will grow from unexpected situations or obstacles in their futures.

“My goal was for them to recognize that our lives and careers have surprises and turns, and to be open to opportunities and to embrace different directions that may be presented to them, as was mine,” Villarreal said. “I came from one direction and ended up in one that’s now bringing me tremendous joy and is very fulfilling and lucrative.”

As the founder of a nonprofit organization, Villarreal said working for a nonprofit is a viable career path.

“I was also hoping to shift their expectation of what it means to be a part of a nonprofit, and that it can be fun, engaging and challenging,” Villarreal said. “It provides all the benefits of a traditional company but has the social impact element too. I wanted to present the nonprofit in a light they maybe haven’t considered.”

Villarreal said she wanted to emphasize the importance of considering different perspectives on careers from the local community.

“I hope they realize that this is a community that cares about them, and it’s a gift to have such an opportunity to hear from community members with different backgrounds,” Villarreal said. “I’m glad the students are here and I hope they take advantage of all the speakers and what they bring to the room. We are their network and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Freshman and Career Speakers Committee member Brendan Giang said the committee succeeded in offering talks from a variety of preeminent speakers..

“We have some fabulous names including the former director of the Stanford Graduate Business School, the Dean of Stanford Law, and a New York Times bestseller come in,” Giang said.

Giang said he joined the organization team because he felt it was essential to provide opportunities for students to hear from people who have been successful in different areas.

“I wanted to do this because I think it’s important, and I enjoy this kind of thing,” Giang said. “I enjoy providing these magical opportunities for both my fellow classmates and everyone else in general.”

Giang said he wanted students to take away the idea that they should pursue careers that they are genuinely passionate and excited about. He also said the speakers may offer insight to students if they are interested in a similar pathway.

“A theme that I see with a lot of these speakers is to do something you love,” Giang said. “Don’t do something because people told you to, and you should love what you do and pursue your dreams.”

Giang hopes to expand the career speaker events in future years to bring an even wider variety of speakers.

“I would love to get more and more speakers to give more opportunities for students to listen to people who have gotten into careers that maybe they want to go into,” Giang said. “I know we had the speakers come in during PRIME, so I hope that in the future we can bring this to more students and do more big events like this to make it really fun and inclusive to everyone.”

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