Amber Found a (Career)Bridge of Hope
By Eric Steckel | December 23, 2020
For many youths, high school is a time to try new things, explore the unknown, and look forward to a limitless future. Amber, a junior at Newark Memorial High School, seizes opportunities with the enthusiasm and vigor of youth. In addition to completing a summer internship through CareerBridge, she has participated in Boost@BerkeleyHaas since her freshman year, is the treasurer of her school’s Mind Wellness Club and Dreamcatchers Club, and participates in both the Debate Club and Scholarship Club.
However, it has not always been easy for Amber. As a first-generation Mexican-American, she carries the burden of being the first generation of her family who will graduate high school and aspire to a college education. Her parents encourage her, but it can be hard for them to understand the stress she feels to succeed in school, and manage time with her many activities.
She also feels pressure from what she describes as imposter syndrome. In 2019, she won a scholarship to participate in a prestigious summer program. “I just felt so out of place,” she confessed. “There were a lot of things that all the other students knew right away. I just felt so behind. Now looking back at it, I should’ve just asked for help, but it made me feel not very smart.”
“I never realized that knowledge opens up opportunities to not only succeed in life, but also grow as a person. I feel like CareerBridge has allowed me to do that in many ways.”
Although the experience made her nervous to participate in a CareerBridge summer internship, she was thankful for the opportunity. “I had so many plans, and most of them got canceled,” she said. “While all the other internships had to say, ‘You know what? We just have to close. I guess it’s not happening.’ CareerBridge was saying, ‘Okay, how are we going to do this now online?’” Amber was so grateful that she had an opportunity to learn job skills, and receive a stipend for her hard work, something she feels is often overlooked. “That’s a resource that CareerBridge offers that’s very important and it allows CareerBridge to be open to more people.”
CareerBridge opened her eyes to so many opportunities. Due to the constraints imposed by COVID-19, the entire internship was conducted through a wide variety of online workshops and projects. The cohort learned about transportation jobs from Caltrans and BART, mind wellness through a workshop presented by Kylie Walsh Osteo, and started a small business, Heart2Heart Greeting Cards. Best of all, she has carried what she has learned into the school year and is applying it to help others.
“Towards the beginning of the school year, my friend was telling me about how everyone was feeling stressed,” Amber explained. “She said she wanted to start a Mind Wellness Club, and she asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. Of course, I said, ‘Yes.’ I feel like the things I learned in Ms. Kylie’s workshop, I wanted all the people in the club to learn as well.”
She also feels optimistic about her future career, even if she doesn’t have any firm plans. “I’ve never had one career in mind,” she admitted. “CareerBridge made me feel like, okay, there’s a lot of opportunities out there and there are options for me.”