Students at Junipero Serra Elementary arrived to school on a sunny day in May to find tech workers, a city supervisor, police officers, a K-9 dog and two National Park Service horses — yes, horses — there to greet them.

It was certainly an unusual start to the school day. But this wasn’t just any day for Junipero Serra students. It was their school’s very first Career Day.

Students learned from more than 30 San Francisco professionals on May 10 about their jobs, what they do in their roles and how they got to where they are today. Kids had lots of questions, including whether presenters enjoyed their jobs and how busy their schedules are.

During Supervisor David Campos’s presentation, he acknowledged that not every day is easy.

“It can be challenging, but what I love about my job is I get to interact with people,” Campos said.


The children also heard from several staff of Xoom, Junipero Serra Elementary’s Circle the Schools partner.

Adam N., a Mobile UX Designer at Xoom, told students about what he does at his job and started them off with the basics by drawing a typical app login screen on a whiteboard and asking students which buttons might be missing. These savvy students knew immediately what would make the app work better for users, he said.

Adam said he wanted to impart to students that while people at Xoom might have different tasks, it “all goes to one beneficial goal” — to help their customers.

The Career Day was organized with help from volunteer Deborah Reames, who dedicates time at the school through the San Francisco Education Fund’s Literacy Program. Deborah partnered with Shaina Steinberg, Senior Literacy Coordinator at the Education Fund, to recruit the speakers and schedule the day.

“To have real-life people talking about their college experiences and how they got to where they are and having such exciting careers makes it real to kids,” said Principal Eve Cheung. “Students have the opportunity to ask questions, and I think that’s very important, that one-to-one interaction with presenters.”

Principal Cheung said her students appreciated all of the hands-on projects they got to do during the day. One presenter, who works as a sports videographer, brought in his camera to show students how he films big games. Another volunteer, a chef, demonstrated her job by making pancakes and having kids taste-test them. Xoom engineers brought in an interactive coding program. And of course, visiting with the horses was a big hit.

“The students were so engaged in all of the activities,” Principal Cheung said.


Sarah Berger, who works as a nurse and also volunteers at Junipero Serra through the Education Fund’s Literacy Program, gave students a short anatomy quiz and then helped students listen to their heartbeats through her stethoscope.

“It was really fun,” Sarah said. “The kids all loved hearing their heartbeats.  It was really cute to watch their faces light up when they heard it.”

Adam of Xoom said he was particularly impressed with the range of professions the community presented and already cannot wait until the next career day.

“[The students] got a really good, well-rounded idea of what they can do, what they can shoot for and what they might want to do,” Adam said.

The school’s Career Day is part of a larger effort to promote college readiness and encourage students to think early on about their hopes and dreams for when they grow up.

“We want kids to know that there are so many opportunities,” Principal Cheung said.


We’re looking back at the 2015-16 school year for Throwback Thursdays! Do you have a favorite memory to share from the school year? Let us know in the comments!