The SGA hosted Whitman’s first-ever “Career Day” event in the Commons last Thursday and Friday. The program brought together parents who work in various career fields to speak about their occupations and professional journeys.
The event spanned four sessions over two days. It took place during second and third periods on Thursday and fourth and fifth periods on Friday, featuring 15 speakers who work in fields that ranged from sports broadcasting to law enforcement. Students registered for the program in advance, and received an excused absence from class to attend.
SGA Leadership team member Era Qerimi, a senior, proposed the event last year while she was president of the business leadership club, DECA. The extracurricular focuses on career development and hosts events for students to learn about jobs in the field.
“I realized that after hearing [professionals’] stories through business panels on DECA, I knew I had a role on SGA to help not just the members of DECA but also tons of other students that would want to have this opportunity,” Qerimi wrote in a text message to The Black & White.
Each session began with speakers sharing a one to two-minute “pitch” that summarized their occupations and briefly explained the experiences that led them to their chosen career paths. Student organizers then opened the floor for students to ask the speakers questions.
Throughout the event, students learned about the professionals’ experiences and gathered tips they could use in their future career paths.
“I attended to know more about different careers,” junior Ella Kaplan said. “I enjoyed being able to ask questions at the end to all different types of people, so I can get a sense of what I want to do.”
Amazon Emergency Services Manager Dinesh Patil, a former Montgomery County Police officer, said that he spoke at the event to highlight the impact of pursuing a career in policing and the responsibilities involved in the job, he said. During his career, Patil recognized the significant ways policing contributes to the social needs of a community.
“It can be daunting to try to understand how you get to your goal,” Patil said. “By hearing different people talk about what their own journey was, what steps they took [and] maybe even being brave and stepping outside of what a norm may be, I think you could get a lot of growth through other people’s experiences.”
In addition to answering questions about their careers, the parent presenters offered words of advice for students in the pursuit of their own career ambitions.
FDA Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Yulia Yasinskaya encouraged students to learn from new experiences and make the most out of opportunities that come up.
“Keep your eyes open; opportunities always come along,” Yasinskaya said. “You might be set for one path but interactions with other people and opportunities that come your way [can change that] ”
During opening pitches and the Q&A portion of the event, many speakers revealed that their happiness and success come as a result of finding an occupation that they’re passionate about. According to Kaplan, students left Career Day with a clear takeaway: pursue a career you love.
For Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Leonhardt, a Senior Writer for the New York Times, it’s important that students don’t feel pressure to make up their minds on a career path yet. He advised students to leverage the wide array of course offerings at Whitman, explore their interests and keep an open mind.
“Try to find something that you actually like doing rather than something that you think you should do, or that your parents tell you you should do,” Leonhardt said in an interview. “You don’t need to know what you want to do when you’re 18.”