Engage, Inspire, Empower                              OUR STUDENTS

Our Mission

Dream High’s mission is to expose high school students in economically disadvantaged communities to professional business careers across all industries and empower them with skills they can use now to explore their dream careers.

The Problem

94% of parents of students in Santa Ana Unified School District do not have a college degree.  Therefore, most students lack exposure to professionals and skills to engage those in professional careers.  The lack of exposure leads to lack of knowledge of career opportunities and, more importantly, lack of communication and critical thinking skills so critical in our knowledge-based economy.  However, it is difficult to teach this in the classroom without actually placing students in a professional setting and providing them opportunities to practice with those currently in professional careers.

Our Solution: The Dream High Program

We organize student-led career panels for high school students in underrepresented communities. We invite the panelists and work with the teachers to teach students how to research, prepare questions, and interview professionals to explore career opportunities.

  • Sophomores: Through a series of student-led career panels, students learn how to research and prepare insightful questions for the panelists about their companies, positions, and career path.
  • Juniors: Applying their research and critical thinking skills, students choose a career of their interest and in groups of 3-4 interview professionals at company site.
  • Seniors: Matched with students aspiring to follow their career path, mentors guide seniors in college selection and application process.

Why the Career Panel Model?

Unlike the traditional high school career day where companies set up booths and the students are left alone to explore, the career panel model enables the moderator to guide the initial conversation between professionals and students to ensure that the students are asking insightful questions and the professionals are speaking on topics that interest the students.  It also allows time for the teachers to work with the students to research the companies and prepare questions for the panelists prior to the event, and provides opportunities for the students to interact with real world professionals through Q&A during the panel session and networking afterwards.

By the Students, For the Students

Dream High’s Business Career Panel is a student-led program.  Dream High staff and the teachers work with the students prior to the career panel, but the students prepare for and assume key roles during the day of the career panel.  Some of the key roles include:

  • Moderating the panel discussion.
  • Introducing the panelists.
  • Greeting the panelists and, using the time to maximize networking opportunity, walk them from the school office to the event location on campus.
  • Thanking the panelists on behalf of all the students.

Key Learning Objectives: Learn to initiate and conduct informational interviews with professionals to explore their dream careers.

Based on the biographies of the panelists provided several weeks in advance, Students:

  • Research companies and industries represented by the panelists.
  • Formulate and prepare research-based questions that would yield meaningful answers.
  • Learn to listen critically and ask follow up questions based on what the panelists present.
  • Network with the panelists and learn how to stand out among their peers.

Guest Panelists will:

  • Provide a brief introduction of their company, industry, and role.
  • Be on a panel comprised of 3-5 professionals to answer questions from the moderator and students about their company and career.
  • Provide networking opportunities for the students to approach them one-on-one before and after the panel.
  • Provide feedback to students on their performance and talk about couple students that stood out to them during the event.  (A lesson for the students is to learn how to network and stand out among their peers.  For instance, if you were hiring, which of the students, based on the questions they asked, way they spoke, or carried themselves, would you be interested in interviewing?)


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