Last April, with students across the globe attending school from home, Buddy Leong ‘21 had an idea to create free Zoom webinars for high school and college students to connect with professionals in their careers of interest. He recruited his brother, Koko Leong ’24, and fellow Punahou students, Jonathan Wu ’22 and Thomas King ’22, as well as several students in California, to launch Virtual Student Experiences.
“Talking with others about what they want to do when they get older made me realize that we all have goals, but no idea how to get there,” Buddy said. “Given the extra time of online school, I was able to put more thought into how I could really help people discover and learn about their career aspirations.”
Virtual Student Experiences provides career webinars that allow students to hear from industry professionals about their careers and get tips. It also offers workshops, such as Introduction to Investing, co-hosted by Buddy and Lauren Paer ’02.
“The goal of these webinars and workshops is to give students insight into a field that they can potentially see themselves working in in the future or one that they’re just curious about,” says Jonathan, who is in charge of the group’s video editing and creation. Past webinar topics have explored engineering, asset management, business and medicine, and Punahou alumni have participated as guest speakers, including Max Tavepholjalern ’11, Chad Sakumoto ’00, Danny Kim ’88 and Cara Nakamura ’95.
Recently, the group partnered with other schools and universities, including Hawaii Technology Academy, a public charter school, and Hawai‘i Pacific University. They also have taken on five interns, three of whom are Punahou students. “The end goal is to become an organization that provides experiences for students around the world,” Buddy says.