Alumni Return to Talk Careers

November 2, 2022

Career Incubator returned to campus for the first time in three years on Oct. 22, and this year, eight alumni returned to campus to help lead hands-on workshops for some 140 sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The event introduced students to a wide range of careers through presentations by professionals in 12 workshops. Each student attended three sessions, based on their individual interests.


This year, seniors were included, since they didn’t have the opportunity to attend during remote learning. Seniors were prioritized so they could attend their favorite sessions.

Junior Sandy Garcia went into the day hopeful to become more decided about a possible career.

“I’m excited to get a feeling of what some careers look like because I don’t have an idea right now and I feel this might help me get an idea,” Sandy said.


Senior Stephany Urbina also didn’t know exactly what career she wanted to pursue and came away with more clarity.

“I told myself, if I came out of a workshop feeling like I didn’t get anything out of it, then maybe it wasn’t for me, versus in sessions where I could leave seeing myself in that career position,” she said.


The hands-on experiences gave Stephany a feel for various careers, she said. For example, in the mechanical engineering session, she took apart a wind-up toy and learned how all parts worked and in the Merck workshop on science careers she inserted droplets of baking soda and watched a piece of dry ice be placed into samples of cabbage juice.

Gabriella Trujillo, class of 2010 came back to share her experience as a social media strategist and copywriter for a non-profit organization, 826 Valencia, which focuses on helping students in San Francisco become comfortable with writing. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and also taught English at Universidad Internacional de Catalunya.

Gabi shared that she, too, felt unsure about her career for the longest time, and she shared the positive side of changing career ideas mid-way:

“Some people see that as an interruption, but I see it as a good thing and find value in switching because it helps you better understand in the long term what you would want to do,” she said.

Gabi advised taking college as an opportunity to explore, and learning more about careers by job-shadowing and using YouTube videos and other resources.

Matiana Barrera, mother of alumnus Jacob Barrera (class of 2017), helped bring a panel of employees from Merck, a large pharmaceutical manufacturing company where she is a lead associate working on biologics and cancer medicines. The panel members shared how they came to work at Merck.

Matiana also serves in Merck’s “Alianza” group, which focuses on promoting Latinos there. Matiana noticed Eastside on the list of potential schools to contact for outreach.

“As a parent of an Eastside alum, it’s important to give back,” she said. Personally, I feel I will never be able to repay all Eastside has done.”

Her son Jacob graduated from St. Paul University in May and Matiana recognized students her son had studied with in high school. She felt moved to see how much the alumni had grown.

“To see them graduate and come back to be an example to these Eastsiders, is so meaningful,” she said. “You guys get to see first-hand how your hard work pays off and how that’s going to be like in the future.”

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