In 1986, children on a small floating village built a football pitch from old scraps of wood and fishing rafts after watching the 1986 FIFA World Cup. They went on to be one of the most successful youth soccer clubs in Southern Thailand.
We all have heard or experienced firsthand the power of influence in propelling an individual (or a group of people) to take on hard challenges and achieve success. Besides anecdotal proof, studies have shown us that humans learn through modeling the behavior of others.
For myself, all it took was a colleague-turned-mentor from an Ivy League business school to inspire me to apply for the best business schools in the U.S.—Wharton. I became the first among my peers working in Malaysia at that time to enter a top business school.
A fellow Wharton student has taken his own firsthand experience of influence and turned it into a personal mission to create positive influence in his current place of residence: San Francisco.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Julian Baldwin passed many significant hurdles with hard work and persistence to succeed. He graduated magna cum laude from Temple University School of Pharmacy and went on to enroll in the MBA for Executives Program (WEMBA) at the Wharton School.
With his success, Julian always wondered why his childhood friend Melvin never even enrolled in college. Melvin was smart, and Julian considered him an equal. Later on, Melvin confided that Julian was the first person he had ever known to go to college. Melvin couldn’t see past his circumstances to consider further education as an option. Julian has come to believe that making real connections and working with mentors can be catalysts to change someone’s life, and even more so for underserved populations.
It is this belief that inspired Julian to form Career Day 365. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Career Day 365 matches seasoned professional with high school students through a community platform. The idea is to share professionals’ roadmaps and inspire high school kids to dream.
In Silicon Valley style, Career Day 365 is using technology to make career mentorship accessible. While the online platform enables the initial connection to be scalable, however, an offline (or face-to-face) component is critical for overall effectiveness. Hence, Julian plans to pair the platform with an offline component, starting with Career Day Summit.
Held on January 7, 2016, the summit will bring together over 150 high school students and 30 professionals. Nine different panels will be organized to help students learn more about specific industries like health care and high tech and also career paths like entrepreneurship and business development. Panels like these and professionals from Oracle, Clinton Foundation and ConAgra Foods will expose students to what is out there. Students will come from a broad range of high schools and college/career readiness nonprofits in the Bay Area. Wharton | San Francisco’s Social Impact Group have helped Julian prepare, and WEMBA students will share their career journeys and answer students’ questions. Local partner nonprofits will also participate, like the Making Waves College and Alumni Program, which will be present to teach the hows: tactics and standards to resumes, cover letters, interviewing and networking.
Career Day 365 will not only expose high school students to professionals who have carved a successful career path, but also hand them the tools to create their own path. So perhaps more than a platform, Julian and team are creating a springboard for students—one that will propel them to a bright future where they can truly answer the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”