A pharmacist, Julian Baldwin, WG’16, came to Wharton San Francisco’s EMBA program to advance his career. During the program, he was inspired to launch Career Day 365, a career-readiness nonprofit to connect professionals with high school students for career mentoring. We talked to Julian about his nonprofit, the support he’s received from Wharton, and his organization’s first event.
From Pharmaceuticals to the Nonprofit Sector
I’m originally from Philadelphia where, after college, I worked as a retail pharmacist. When my wife, a military doctor, was stationed in Oklahoma, I decided to quit my job, and move to Oklahoma. I worked as a clinical director for a pharmacy benefit manager where I automated processes and implemented six new clinical programs in two years.
When my wife fulfilled her obligation to the military, we decided to move to California to be near her family. California is one of the most competitive areas in the country for pharmacists so I came to Wharton San Francisco’s EMBA Program to become more competitive in this field. Once I started the EMBA program at Wharton, I noticed how many of my peers were still thinking about their career paths even though they were in their 30s and 40s.
I connected that with the experience of a friend from my college days who never applied to college despite all my efforts. It turned out that I was the first person he had met who had gone to college. That friend’s story clicked with the experience of my peers and I realized the importance of mentoring high school students about their future possibilities. If we could help them dream bigger earlier on by providing helpful information, then they would have the motivation to go to college and pursue careers. If my peers at Wharton could be helped by mentoring and networking, imagine the impact we could make on high school students!
I decided that the best way to approach this issue was through crowdsourcing career advice. Professionals have so much career information that they can share with young people. Yet many professionals are too busy to volunteer. I wanted to facilitate those connections through technology as well as in-person events. So I launched Career Day 365 to fill in those gaps – we provide a pathway for professionals to mentor young people and we help students dream bigger and access useful information.
From Classroom to Launch
I originally seeded the idea, but my classmates have been instrumental in helping me develop the concept of Career Day 365. It essentially began as a project in an entrepreneurship class so I formed a team with several classmates to work on this concept. Prof. Ethan Mollick became very supportive of the idea as it developed and encouraged me to continue on this journey. When the class ended, other students offered support in different ways. Roma McCaig, WG’16, is our brand and marketing leader and Peter MacEwan, WG’17, is our chief operating officer.
As for funding, I raised several thousand dollars from my classmates to host Career Day Summit. And the School allowed me to host our first event on the Wharton San Francisco campus. Our EMBA career director, Steve Hernandez, volunteered his time to help open the event. We had 25 Wharton EMBA students and alumni serving as panelists at the event. We could easily have had more, but Wharton’s Global Modular Courses were running that same week so many students were out of town. However, I’m sure they will sign up for our next event. It warms my heart to see how the School and my classmates have rallied behind this idea.
Hosting the First Career Day Summit
We had over 100 high school students from the Bay Area attend our first event, which was held on campus in January. We had nine different panels on areas like business development, healthcare, customer relationship management, and marketing. Each panel was comprised of three to five professionals who talked about their professional journeys and why they picked their career path. At the Summit, the Making Waves College and Alumni Program had sessions on interviewing and resume writing skills, and we concluded with a networking session.
My vision is for companies and highly successful professionals from graduate schools all over the country to come together online to share information and advice. Professionals who never before had the chance to mentor students now have a pathway to do that for young people. I envision the offline model growing over time with more face-to-face events. It was beautiful to start at Wharton, and I hope to host summits all over the country in the future.
Changing Career Tracks
There is a saying that if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plan. I never thought I’d live in Oklahoma, go back to school, or launch a nonprofit – but I’ve now done all three. As for changing career tracks, Wharton gives you so many options. When you start the program, it’s important to stay open to new ideas. You learn so much not just in terms of classroom knowledge, but also about perspectives and opportunities from your classmates. I tell new students to look for where their passions and skills align and the sky is the limit.
To read a Knowledge@Wharton High School article on Career Day 365, click here.
To read a Wharton Magazine article about Career Day 365, click here.
Posted: November 22, 2016