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Students reflect on job experiences, apply them to future careers

Sophomore Eric Zhu sits on a toilet with his laptop open. Zhu said that his company Aviato is a way for people to engage in venture capitalism anywhere, anytime. (Submitted photo: Eric Zhu)

Junior Hayden Kress fidgets with his pen as he works on completing his homework for precalculus/trigonometry. Tapping the pen on his desk, twisting the cap and clicking it, he does anything to keep himself focused on the pile of numbers jumbled on his paper. For him, math was never his forte. 

He said, “It is frustrating that the school system forces you to learn these high-level, theoretical equations and scenarios that you will basically never use in the real world, but is mandatory and matters a lot in the eyes of the traditional school system.”

However, Kress said he doesn’t have to worry much about high school math, as for him, he has been pursuing something more appealing to him. Something more “real world”. 

“To put it simply, I didn’t want to be like everybody else. I didn’t want to go on the traditional path of what school tries to teach you and what a lot of people tell you. The only way to find out what kind of opportunities you have, is to put yourself out there. You need to want it.”

Kress, over the years, said he has been involved in many entrepreneurial activities. In one such activity, he was involved in advising a company that reached an evaluation of $20 million at its peak. 

“In the past year, I’ve been involved in the ‘crypto world’. I was an advisor for a bunch of different projects. I would help companies by advising them on marketing and operation strategy. So I gained a lot of experience from that,” he said. “I also do stocks as well. I still have certain equity positions like Tesla, Nvidia and AMD (Advanced Micro Devices).”

Kress is not the only one engaged in career opportunities. According to a recent study from Zippia, about 27% of teens ages 16 to 19 had jobs in 2020, with the median weekly salary being $497. In light of National Student Employment Week during April 4 to 10, students like Kress explore ways to make money as a teen in high school. 

Junior Oliver Rosewell is another one of these students, who like Kress, have taken an early approach to his career. An employee at Dreyer & Reinbold INFINITI, Rosewell said he fills a wide range of roles for the business even as a high school student.

“I’ll greet customers when they come to bring their car in for service,” he said. “Then, I’ll drive their car to the parking lot so the technicians can work on it. I’ll also wash the cars, vacuum them and sweep the floors.”

Rosewell said he became interested in working there after the manager personally offered him the job.

“I was approached by the service manager when I was 14 years old at the parking lot while I was replacing a front bumper,” he said. “Since then, I waited for my license so I could work for them, because you need a license to drive the customer’s car.”

According to him, this job is a stepping stone for what he would like to accomplish later in life.

“Right now I’m deciding between engineering, something with automotives, or the air force [as my career path],” Rosewell said. “I help with the technicians sometimes when they’re working on the cars. When I’m not busy, I’ll sometimes go over and see what they’re doing. I believe I can learn from these experiences and use them for my own career path if I choose to do so.” 

Junior Hayden Kress codes the platform for his new startup company on his desktop. Kress said his dream is to impact people through innovation. (Submitted photo: Hayden Kress)

Kress also expressed the potential values in his experiences.

“[Advising companies] was a good entry into a lot of core parts of business and entrepreneurship,” he said. “You need to learn how to handle people you’ve never met before. You need to know how to market yourself and make yourself valuable to others. Being in whatever space you’re in, you have to be an expert in it. You have to be able to know your customers really well. You have to know your target audience and how to solve their problems. I would say, for a young person, doing an internship or being in an organization- just being a part of it- makes it a huge learning experience for anyone.”

Melinda Stephan, who has been a College and Career Resource Center Coordinator for nine years, said acquiring a job during high school like Kress and Rosewell is very beneficial to a student’s future. 

“I’ve talked to students who are running their own lawn care business or running their own retail business like selling shoes online,” she said. “A lot of students work for sure. A lot of students in particular are working part-time jobs. It’s not always something they want to do as a career, but that kind of work experience definitely gives students a leg up for their future careers in terms of those transferable skills. Things like being on time, working with customers, working with co-workers and customer service skills. All of those experiences are good experiences.”

According to Stephan, it varies from each student on what they would like to do after high school. 

“I think if you look at the data, roughly 95% of CHS students continue their education after high school and usually go to a two or four year college,” she said. “As far as career paths, they go in all kinds of directions. We’ve got a lot of students who graduate from Carmel [High School] with a lot of different interests.”

One of those career paths could possibly be owning an entire software company. Sophomore Eric Zhu is a co-owner of Aviato, a software company that specializes in organizing data for venture capitalists. 

“We make venture capital more data-driven and also way more efficient,” he said. “We store data from private equity companies, so [venture capitalists] can filter through [startup] companies and find which ones they want to talk to and send links to.”

Even in high school, Zhu’s company which he created a year ago, has raised over $650,000. However, Zhu said being a high school student came with its limits. 

“There’s definitely some disadvantages [to being a high schooler]. When I was flying to San Francisco, my co-founder had to pick me up from the airport because I was 14 back then and I couldn’t legally get out of the airport.” 

Rosewell agreed with Zhu and said that being in high school is disadvantageous, especially when it comes to time constraints since he needs more hours to become a technician in the car dealership.

“It would be a good experience to become a technician,” he said. “But with my limited hours I can work as I’m still attending school, it’s a bit difficult to become a technician.”

In contrast, Kress said being a young student actually helps in being successful. 

“I feel like a lot of industries have gotten more accustomed to young talent,” he said. ”And I think a lot of people see it as an advantage because young people have a unique perspective on the world than what most people throughout their lives have been ingrained in. I don’t feel intimidated because of my age.”

Siri Byrisetty

Stephan said high school is a great place to build up experience for the future. 

“Having any kind of job and sometimes it doesn’t even always have to be paid, but any kind of experience where you are given responsibilities on maybe to manage something, to plan something or to assist people,” she said. “Those are all skills that you are likely going to have to use after high school. So I think it’s fantastic when students have paid jobs, unpaid service opportunities, opportunities to research especially if you think that is something you want to do later in life.”

For Kress, he said he will keep pursuing the path of entrepreneurship.

“The more you expose yourself to the world of entrepreneurship, the more you can see how much more you have to do,” he said. “For me, it’s a rabbit hole. The deeper you go, the more you see what else you can do and what possibilities you have. For me, I don’t feel like I’ve done a ton. So I’m just constantly looking to move onto the next thing.”

Looking at the future, Kress said he will continue to study and do his best in the classes he is taking. However, he said his end goal will not shift any time soon. Not from school and most definitely not from precalculus class. 

“My main goal is to be able to work on something and be proud of it,” he said. “Being proud of your work. Being proud of what you, as a person who is on this Earth and is very lucky to be on this Earth, accomplished. As far as we know, you really only get one life, so how are you spending it? And are you doing it in a way that fulfills you and fulfills other people with their own life? That’s my goal: To build something that really makes an impact on people.”

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