Report from StepUp First Annual Career Conference in Carson, CA

StepUp Women's Network

On Saturday after TechEd, I attended the first-ever StepUp Career Conference for underserved high-school aged girls.  This event was put on by the national StepUp non-profit, based in Los Angeles and was hosted at the Dermologica HQ in Carson, CA.  On this day 30 girls and their professional mentors participated in a series of activities around career development.  I was connected to this organization’s  local lead, Alexa Brandt, by formerly LA-based do-gooder Sloane Berrent, because of my work with Microsoft’s Digigirlz program.

I loved attending and learned quite a bit about how their very effective professional mentor program runs.  I enjoyed observing the activities and the girls seemed quite engaged all day.  Below is a picture from a great activity, speed mentoring.  During this mentees were encircled by mentors, music was played and when it stopped, girls asked professional women a series of questions.  Dancing was encouraged, fun and learning was had by all!  This was a very successful event and I intend to continue to work with this organization in Southern California.

Speed mentoring works!

Here’s the detailed agenda for the conference:


1. Mentor Check In, Debriefing and Refreshments (9:30-10) - Review event details with Senior Program Manager Alexa Brandt  - Girls Arrive (10:00)

2. Welcome, Introduction of Mentor/Mentees and Ice Breakers (10-11)

3. Break into two groups – Successful Sisters & Working Women (swap after sessions)

Working Women:  How to Become an Internship Queen by Lauren Berger (11:00 – 11:45)

a. What is an internship/part-time job. Why is it beneficial, why would you work for free? Where can you find an internship? Mentors share their internship experiences

b. Strengths with fun self-assessment tests

c. Interview tips and role playing  

Successful Sisters: A Career Girl’s Keys To Success Led by Lisa Lee (11:00 – 11:45)

a. What is a Career, My Mission: What Do I Want to Do

b. My Plan: How Do I Make it Happen, Importance of Education, Time Management & Prioritization

c. Women’s History in the Workplace

d. Activity: Each pair will be given an item such as a cel phone, magazine, credit card, etc. The pairs will be asked to brainstorm as many careers and related skills that correlate with the product. The exercise is designed to get girls to look at everyday items in a new way and get them thinking about careers they may not have considered

4. Lunch and Trivia   (12:30-1:15) Please sit with your mentee(s) during lunch

5. Career Speed Networking (1:15-1:40)

a. Inner/Outer Circle – all mentors will be in the “inner circle” in which they face out while girls will be on the outer circle, facing in. Music will be playing while everyone walks in a circle. When the music stops, girls will ask 2-3 career related questions to whichever mentor they stop in front of. We will play a handful of rounds.

6. Passport to Professions: Career Stations (1:40 – 2:25)

a. Mentors will be grouped together by industry. Each industry will have a table where you will sit. Girls will have a passport booklet. They have to find mentors that meet certain requirements such as find a woman that works with clients or patients. How does she work with different personality types?

b. If you meet the bill, chat with the girl and then stamp her passport

7. Closing Remarks and Gift Bags (2:25-2:30)  - Girls turn in their passport for a Dermologica goody bag. Volunteers get bags too!

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