Finding the right mix might be easy for scientists, but for high school kids trying to find the right career path, it can be intimidating and confusing. That’s why Regional Medical Center and several community partners hosted its first ever career day on Mar. 25, 2022.

More than 100 students from San Jose’s East Side Union High School District gathered at the hospital for talks and open discussion from more than fifteen professionals in the areas of legal and social services, health care and biosciences, and high-tech and start-up. Among the diverse field of speakers were Bien Doan, Captain of the San Jose Fire Department, Yuva Sharanyah Murugan, Product Manager at Google, and Christine Pham, Attorney and Deputy Chief Counsel at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

“For a young person, beginning to understand career options is an exciting, and often scary, part of life,” said Ken West, CEO of Regional Medical Center. “As a community partner, we have a responsibility to help our young people navigate these important decisions by connecting them with people from their neighborhoods, that look like them, and can help them understand their true potential.”

It was the first in-person career day for the students since the pandemic began, giving them the opportunity to ask questions directly to leaders and network with companies from San Jose.

“Having an in-person career day is so beneficial as it gives students time to share, discuss and meet professionals that can’t be duplicated fully with only screen time,” said Lorena Chavez, East Side Union High School District Board Vice President. “Showing them the professional and educational opportunities they have is critical to helping them model for their futures.’’

Only about 30 percent of San Jose students complete any post-secondary program within six years of high school graduation, according to the California Department of Education, San José Evergreen Community College District, and San José State University. Low-income students are twice less likely than their peers to earn a bachelor's degree, with Latinx and African-American students three times less likely.

“It’s our duty to help young people in our community be prepared for their future,” West said. “Especially now, when technology and healthcare are needed more than ever, we must equip the future workforce with the skills they need to make a better world for all of us.”

Jobs in healthcare are in demand. There will be an additional 2.6 million jobs in health care by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, such as registered nurses, also offer higher median wages than most occupations in U.S., according to the same data.

Regional Medical Center employees more than 1,200 people. Although many of them are nurses and doctors, there are several specialties in those fields, as well as other job types that require multiple skill sets and technical aptitude. For example, phlebotomists gather blood samples, clinical laboratory scientists conduct complex lab procedures, and imaging technicians help diagnose medical conditions.

“I had no idea how much technology jobs like nursing and paramedics use,” said Kenneth Williams, a senior at Independence High School. “I’m excited to learn more about how I can bring my skills and passion in tech to a career in healthcare.”

Several Bay Area-based organizations partnered with the hospital to host the career day, including the Asian American Women’s Alliance and the Silicon Valley Restaurant Association. The eclectic mix of organizations, speakers, and age ranges might have seemed odd to some. But for Regional Medical Center, it was a perfect mix.

“The business we’re really in is taking care of our community,” West said.