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This summer as part of the 2018 Summer Summit, a career exploration program for Oakland youth, 18 participants ages 14 to 18 visited San Francisco’s Financial District to participate in mock interviews with professionals from the tech, financial, real estate, and non-profit sectors.

To prepare for the mock interviews, all Summer Summit participants received job readiness training, which consisted of resume writing, work readiness, work etiquette, financial planning, communication skills, and other topics that help youth with their career and educational goals.

The day of the mock interviews, the Summer Summit youth met up at the Fruitvale BART station before departing to San Francisco. During the train ride, youth practiced their elevator pitches and handshakes.

Upon arrival at Morgan Stanley’s offices, the Summer Summit youth and staff were greeted by The Unity Council’s CEO Chris Iglesias and two Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors. Cira Nickerson, Complex Manager at Morgan Stanley, greeted the youth with an inspiring speech and officially welcomed them into the building.

The mock interviews took place at one of Morgan Stanley’s conference rooms. The Summer Summit participants were nervous but ready to answer the mock interview questions. There were a total of six professionals conducting mock interviews:

  • Stephan Jimenez, Indirect Tax at Uber;
  • Julia Gachet, Sr. Manager of Operations at Presence Learning;
  • Chris Gillette, Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley;
  • Amber Gonzales-Vargas, Operations Manager at The Latino Community Foundation;
  • Jan Smidek Vice President, Acquisitions & Finance at JMA Ventures; and
  • Jesse Martinez, Founder at CareerForce & Co Founder| Co-Chair of Latino Startup Alliance

The six professionals that interviewed the Summer Summit participants were very impressed with the youth’s answers and confidence. After the mock interviews, Morgan Stanley provided lunch and an opportunity for the youth to talk with the professionals who interviewed them and ask questions about their careers and education. Youth asked questions like, why did you choose to work in this field? What school did you go to? And what did you major in?

But the day was not over yet, after lunch, the Summer Summit youth and staff went to the 22nd floor to meet the Capital Markets team and take a tour of their facilities. The youth vigorously asked questions about their work, salary and how to get into that field. The Summer Summit youth left San Francisco with a better understanding of the possibilities that exist beyond high school.

Special thanks to Morgan Stanley’s staff for providing this amazing career exploration experience for our youth. 

Workplace Hosts Needed

The Unity Council’s workforce development and youth programs are always looking for employer partners to help program participants as workplace hosts. Activities range from mock interviews, office tours, to hosting an intern onsite for eight weeks. If you’d like your workplace to get involved, please contact us at

“Partnering with Morgan Stanley to create this on-site career exploration opportunity has created a new standard for our youth programs at The Unity Council. Being able to bring under-resourced youth into a professional environment they have never experienced allows them to dream and set goals in a way we can’t achieve alone through our skill development work. We need more partners to host, and finance, these types of field trips.” -Armando Hernandez, Director of Community Programs