More than 50 adults gave the low-down on their careers to 170 high school seniors from Nordhoff and Chaparral High Schools at the Rotary Club of Ojai’s Career Day on April 27, 2016.
The event was kicked off with a short inspirational talk by Ojai Rotarian Pradeep Kapadia. He reminded the students that any successful person has many failures and false starts along the way, and used his own life as an example of perseverance paying off.
The Career Day format was likened to “vocational speed dating.” Prior to career day, school counselors polled students on what jobs most interested them, and then scheduled students to go to groups to meet with 2-3 professionals working in their chosen areas of interest. For the next 20 minutes, the professionals answered students’ questions and talked about their jobs; how they got to their current positions, what they do each day, educational and training requirements, and potential salaries and opportunities in their fields.  Students changed groups and repeated the process three times.  For two hours students talked with adults about 8-12 different jobs, some of which they hadn’t known existed.
Recognizing that all students are not interested in college, the Rotary Career Day committee assembled diverse presenters who are in traditional and non-traditional fields, with jobs that require a wide range of educational and vocational preparation.  They especially sought younger people in the earlier stage of their careers, who could relate with the students and tell them what to expect. 
“The presenters enjoyed having a chance to talk to the graduating seniors, and were impressed with the sharp students, and the questions they asked,” reported Career Day chairperson, Rotarian Patricia Teague Anderson. 
Nordhoff High School counselor Bronwyn Cull-Michaels also saw the benefit of the event,   “This was a great opportunity for our students to hear firsthand from people already in careers that they might want to pursue themselves.”
The Rotary Club of Ojai is working with the high schools on other programs so younger students can talk to community members about their jobs.  This will give students more information with which to make important college and career plans, and will help students see how what they do in high school affects their future options.
If you are interested in helping with similar Rotary projects, please contact Kay Bliss, Rotary Club of Ojai Youth Services Director, at