The Paly Voice

Day 3 of Career Month hosts speakers from machine-learning and management industries

Eric Bo-Han Yap and Micaela Wong

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Sarah Tariq, a research for the development of self-driving cars at Zoox, explains about her career journey to Palo Alto High School students on Day 3 of Career month. Tariq, who initially thought that she would pursue a career in medicine during her high school education, transitioned into the recently-emerging machine learning field. “Everyone’s career path is going to be different and there doesn’t need to be clarity on what you are doing 10 years from now,” Tariq said. “What’s important is finding what motivates you.” Photo: Eric Yap

Sarah Tariq, a researcher for the development of self-driving cars at Zoox, explains her career journey to Palo Alto High School students on Day Three of Career Month. Tariq, who initially thought that she would pursue a career in medicine during her high school education, transitioned into the recently-emerging machine learning field. “Everyone’s career path is going to be different and there doesn’t need to be clarity on what you are doing 10 years from now,” Tariq said. “What’s important is finding what motivates you.” Photo: Eric Yap

As students continue to think about what career path they might one day take, day three of Palo Alto High School’s Career Month brings researcher Sarah Tariq and executive director Linda Jensen to share about their experiences in finding the job that fits them.

According to Tariq, she started her career at Zoox because she is interested in working with new technology to address everyday concerns and is also captivated by the self-driving car movement.

“Ninety-six percent of the day, we are doing something else that doesn’t involve cars,” Tariq said. “Cars are taking up spaces in our house that we can use for something else.”

According to Tariq, through taking courses that they are interested in, students can not only learn more about the subject, but also learn more about themselves.

“In high school, I knew I wanted to become a doctor; I wanted to be a neurosurgeon,” Tariq said. “I took courses like biology and turns out I found it really boring.”

Additionally, Tariq suggests that a great way to help develop one’s career is to show enthusiasm and eagerness through assuming extended responsibilities on the job.

“Don’t only do what you’re expected to do,” Tariq explained. “Find more things to do so you can learn and grow yourself and at the same time, help you advance your career.”

Linda Jensen, Executive Director at the Winter Lodge, Palo Alto’s local skating rink, spoke to a room full of students about her time at Paly and how it prepared her for her career. A Paly alumni herself, Jensen was involved in athletics, music, and clubs while in high school. Through the leadership opportunities outside the classroom, Jensen felt she learned invaluable skills and urged her listeners to do the same.

“Take advantage of those leadership opportunities while you are here [at Paly] because this a perfect place to try it out, gain experience, and give you that confidence that you can use at the next level,” Jensen said.  

After graduating from Paly, Jensen set out to be a lawyer. However, in between obtaining her undergraduate degree and attending law school, Jensen was offered opportunity to be the Executive Director at the Winter Lodge, a rare position for someone so recently graduated. As a skater herself, Jensen quickly fell in love with her job and helped to guide the skating rink from a struggling business to a thriving non-profit.  

“And then I decided this is really important to me,” Jensen said. “‘I don’t want the Winter Lodge to be on the brink of closure again. I want to stay here, I want to keep it thriving. It’s my passion … this is just the perfect fit for me.”

Even after 30 years, Jensen has remained at the Winter Lodge. Her job as Executive Director includes everything from overseeing the various legal paperwork of the business to coordinating the skating school. According to Jensen, the Winter Lodge skating school is currently the largest in the country with 1100 students per week. 

Despite the many joys of her job to choose from, Jensen said the best part is watching the young skaters grow up.

“It’s so rewarding and it’s so meaningful to me that I like going to work everyday,” Jensen said. “I love seeing the kids and their families who are flourishing there.”

The Career Month speaker series continues on Tuesday with electric engineer and entrepreneur Gregorio La Rosa and technology manager Joseph Okpaku.

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