Fifth annual Career Conversations offer insight to different paths

Sylvana Perczek

On Jan. 17, the College and Career Center began hosting its fifth year of Career Conversations. These lunchtime presentations offer Redwood students the chance to listen to parents of the district speak about their various professions.

Career Conversations are held about twice a week through April 25. According to the College and Career Specialist Meg Heimbrodt, an email is sent early in the school year to all parents in the district explaining the idea of the conversations and inviting them to participate.

“We get lots and lots of parents that volunteer, which is really generous because they  take time out of their busy schedules to come and share their path,” Heimbrodt said.

According to Heimbrodt, because many students aren’t informed about Career Conversations, she plays a crucial role in marketing the presentations. She is responsible for communicating with teachers, parents and students about upcoming presentations that might interest them. Career Conversations take place during lunch, so attendance can vary, according to Heimbrodt.

“I think it asks a lot of students to give up their lunch. We’ve been revisiting the timing of the speaker series and I’ve put forward the idea of [having it] during smart period or when they’re not giving up a time where they can decompress and not have their brains turned on,” Heimbrodt said.

Candace Saffery Neufeld came to Redwood to speak on January 30.
Candace Saffery Neufeld addresses environmental sustainability at Redwood on Jan. 30.

The chair of the Career Conversation program and Redwood alumnus Allison Ross, spends the fall semester setting up the program. Then over the next couple of months she coordinates the schedule, communicates with the speakers and manages the selection process.

Although the conversations are available to all students, Ross said she thinks that upperclassmen typically attend more consistently. Throughout the years, student attendance has varied in scale. According to Ross, last year, the conversations averaged 12 students per speaker and the year before was a 16-student average.

“We definitely get some people that come who are already thinking about a certain career that they want to learn more about,” Ross said. “I definitely think there are people who come who know what they want and just want to learn more about it, but then there are people who come to listen because they are interested, but don’t know if that’s what they are going to do in their life.”

According to Ross, while students are in college, they should explore the possibility of an internship to get first-hand knowledge on a specific field. Ross said she believes that in high school and college it may feel like students are locked into one field or job, but throughout life, plans change. The Career Conversations offer insight to different journeys taken and how most don’t follow one path, according to Ross.   

“One of the best things students can do is get informed of as many careers as possible. It’s important to see what the reality is day-to-day and help get some insight into whether you really like what you’re pursuing because it can often be very different from what you’re learning in school,” Ross said.

Redwood students meet in room 111 for a career conversation with environmental sustainability speaker.
Redwood students meet in room 111 for a career conversation with environmental sustainability speaker.

Junior Ella Chapman attended her first career conversation on Jan. 22. Chapman said the conversations are helpful to students who don’t know what they specifically want to do in the future.

“I feel [that] around Marin, people have a pressure that they need to know what they want to do after high school. In reality, I think you can not have a single idea in mind because college is where you’re supposed to figure it out,” Chapman said.

Chapman doesn’t believe that students need such a strict plan for their futures.

“High school shouldn’t be where you have to decide your entire life because you’re a kid. I think it’s important that students go to the Career Conversations so they can see what the possibilities are in the future,” Chapman said.

The Career Conversations will continue through until April 25 in room 111. To learn about the upcoming Career Conversations speakers, click on the College and Career Center under the the resources tab on the Redwood website.