Crystal, now a freshman at MIT, joined the first cohort of students in Futures and Options’ inaugural Externship Program with Salesforce, which piloted in February 2021. In a reimagining of what remote career development programming could be, Futures and Options created The Externship Experience, a 16-hour virtual career development program designed to kick-start our students’ professional journeys.
Looking for an opportunity to gain some professional experience and encouraged by her high school’s career counselor, Crystal applied to the Externship program. “The primary factor for me was meeting new people who were interested in the same things I was,” Crystal said, “but also getting to network with professionals and learn what it’s like to have a career.” With the Salesforce team, students worked in groups to create three-minute “Flash Talk” pitches that focused on a particular world challenge. Students identified which Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) the challenge addressed, explained why Salesforce should tackle it, and provided a solution for the problem. In her studies, Crystal had been drawn to electrical engineering, business administration, and bio-engineering, but while working with Salesforce, she discovered a deeper passion for sustainability. “There are different parts of sustainability that I’m drawn to,” Crystal shared. “Renewable energy, like solar panels, but also tackling food waste. One of the bigger things I learned from Salesforce was about the seventeen sustainability goals.” Some of these goals include affordable and clean energy, climate action, quality education, and gender equality, among others.
“The externship with Salesforce taught me that I don’t only want to do software, I need some kind of hardware in my career too,” Crystal said. “That’s why I like electrical and computer science, because I get a little bit of both. The experience with Salesforce showed me what I want, but also what I want more of.”
When she’s not crocheting, catching up on the latest Marvel movie, or sometimes combining those interests by making Marvel plushies (Iron Man was Crystal’s big project in the summer of 2021!), Crystal worked with her friends as a programmer to create their own platform—–OpportuniTeens–— for high school aged students to find internships and volunteer opportunities during the pandemic. “I’m usually the person who has too much on their plate, and I have to figure out what to push off. But don’t take too little—–take it all and then figure out what’s important to you,” Crystal advises. “If there’s a problem that you see in your community, you can get creative about how to solve it. Learn things outside of school and do projects that you’re passionate about.”