Life After High School

Transitioning into your Concrete Next Step during COVID-19

Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on joining the classes before you in the Summit family of alumni! Now more than ever in the wake of the COVID crisis, we believe every young adult deserves the opportunity to launch into a life of fulfillment, including career and financial well-being.

To tackle these challenges head-on, we have compiled resources to help you build skills, habits, and knowledge for career and financial well-being during this time.

Launching Your Career

  • Employers look for these four things in a new hire:
    • Work experience
    • Certificate/credential/degree
    • Skills (technical + professional)
    • A referral to you from someone they know and trust
    Why do employers look for these four things?
    • Employers want a new hire whom they can trust to do the job starting from Day 1.
    • In a recession, there are more applicants than there are job openings, so employers need a way to filter the applications they receive down to the top 5-10 candidates to interview. Looking for work experience, credential/degrees, and skills helps employers the filter their stack of resumes. A referral from someone gives you an opportunity to “bypass” the filtering system altogether.
    What does this mean for your career launching strategy?
    • Build towards these four aspects. Look for ways to build not just work experience, but also a credential/degree, skills, and a professional network of people who can refer you so you have the very best chance of either making it through the filter or bypassing the filter altogether.
    • Build in a web, not in a line. Instead of tackling each of the four things separately, look for ways to build multiple at once. This can help you continue to make forward progress, even if the pandemic disrupts your plans.
  • Building a professional network can help you learn whether a career is right for you and provide up-to-the-minute information about job leads, internship opportunities and more. Professional networks are your most important professional currency and can help you land your next job.

    The secret to building a network in your desired profession? Informational interviews.

    • Informational interviews are one of the best tactics you can use to build your professional network – and you can do it even during shelter-in-place!
    • An informational interview is just a short 20-minute phone call between you and a person who is in the field or company you are interested in working at. The purpose of the call is to exchange information and get to know each other – not to ask for a job directly.
    • To do an informational interview, you will want to: 1) Prepare 2) Conduct 3) Follow up with a thank you note.

    Remember: It’s okay to feel shy, nervous, or scared to do an informational interview. Just know that from working professionals’ point of view, they will enjoy speaking about their work and how they got started, and will welcome your outreach. At your age, they were in your shoes too: getting started, figuring out a career path, and learning about professional possibilities.

  • In times of recession, there are more people looking for jobs/internships than there are jobs/internships available. Networking is the best way to hear about these opportunities before they are posted online. You can activate the network of people that you know (such as family, friends, former coworkers, former classmates) to help you find a job by doing the following:

    Step 1: Prepare your Ask.

    Get clear on the type of job or internship you are looking for. Be specific on your ask! Being specific helps people remember what type of job you are looking for and helps them match you to people that they know. We recommend using an “elevator pitch”.

    Step 2: Connect.

    An easy way to ask for the conversation is “Hi [name], I hope you are doing well. I was recently laid off/finished the semester, and am looking for job/internship advice. Could we talk this week via phone?” During the call, first connect with the person about non-work things – how are they doing, how is shelter-in-place, then transition to your elevator pitch. Follow your pitch by asking “Do you know anyone in your network that might have a job/internship opening that I could talk to?”

    Step 3: Follow up.

    Send a “thank you” text/email/DM as soon as you are finished with the call. In that thank you, share your contact info and a reminder of what type of job/internship you are looking for. If that person introduces you to someone in their network, be sure to follow up with the original person with a thank you note to let them know how the conversation went. We do this to honor the time and effort the original person has invested in us by sharing their network of contacts with us.

    Step 4: Rinse and repeat.

    Because we are in a recession, you may have to make many phone calls and speak to many people. Set some goals for yourself and aim to talk to multiple people a day, until you land that dream job.

  • So you’re interested in building your professional network and are thinking about how to activate that network. Great! Where to begin?

    Informational Interviewing 101: UC Berkeley lays out the basics of informational interviews, breaking down the process into 6 simple steps.

    Outreach Email Template: UC Berkeley also provides an excellent template email for requesting an informational interview.

    Follow-Up Email Templates: Johns Hopkins recommends sending a thank you note within 24 hours of your informational interview, with two templates for doing so.

    How To Ace an Informational Interview: University of Washington provides 8 best practices that can help you make the most of this important career-building tool.

    Questions to Ask During the Informational Interview: Also from UC Berkeley, here are some prompts to get these conversation rolling.

  • In conversation with Amy Sandoz, Director of Diploma at Summit Public Schools:

    Q: How do I format my elevator pitch?

    A: Start with a simple framework: 1) your goal, 2) how you came up with that goal, 3) things you are doing or have done to achieve your goal, and 4) how your goal relates to the person you are talking to.

    An example elevator pitch based on this framework might be: “I’m in school studying to be a nurse right now so I can join the fight against COVID-19. I became interested in becoming a nurse after volunteering at a children’s hospital last year. I am currently taking a full load of classes and was recently laid off due to shelter-in-place. I’m looking for an entry-level job, related to healthcare, that would allow me to continue to pay for school, help me get work experience, and reach my goals. I thought you would be great to talk to about this since you are also in the healthcare industry.”

    Q: How do I approach professionals for networking and outreach?

    A: There are different ways to approach people based on how current your relationship is with them:

    • Active Relationship (you talk to this person frequently): Pick up the phone and ask for assistance. There’s a relationship. They will most likely love to help.
    • Passive Relationship (you talk to this person infrequently): Set an appointment to reconnect. Find out about them and let them know you’re looking for something.
    • Dormant Relationship (you haven’t talked to this person in a long time): Reconnect by social media or email. Just talk. Don’t ask for anything — yet. Stay in touch; build the relationship before you ask.

    Q: How can we proactively manage the emotional side of these asks?

    A: It is not easy putting yourself out there, so begin with the understanding that it’s okay to feel nervous or scared when making these asks. Start with people you know well first to help you practice and feel more comfortable.

    If you find yourself feeling dejected or sad that you have been talking to lots of people but haven’t found a job/internship yet, recognize this can be a very normal feeling to have. Remind yourself that we are in a pandemic and that we are hearing a lot of “no’s” right now because people are responding to the uncertainty with hiring freezes. However, we will start to open back up and jobs will become available, so you are doing networking now to make sure you are at the very “front of the hiring line” as soon as jobs become available again.

    Finally, if you notice you are just feeling really sad or frustrated about networking: take a break! Practice some self-care and pause for a few days. Your conversations with contacts will always go better when you are feeling a little more relaxed.

Managing Your Finances

  • If you:

    • have been working full- or part-time or contract in California, OR
    • had your work hours reduced or lost your job due to COVID-19

    …then you could be eligible for unemployment insurance in California. Here is the eligibility criteria for residents in the state of California. For how to apply, watch this video from the Employment Development Department.

    If you are a DREAMER, DACA, un- or under-documented and want help deciding whether or not it makes sense for you to apply, then we recommend you connect with an ally such as Immigrants Rising to help you decide.

  • In addition to unemployment benefits, here are replacement sources of income to consider:

    1. Unemployment Insurance Funds through the state of California
    2. Local Relief Funds, such as California’s $500 for undocumented immigrants
    3. One-time Stimulus Check from the federal government, up to $1,200
    4. A New Part-Time or Full-Time Job, either an essential job or a remote job
    5. Monetizing Your Passions with side hustles: selling your DIY projects, tutoring elementary or middle school students, tutoring people on a second language, translation services on Fiverr, etc.
    6. Contact Tracing: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is hiring thousands of COVID-19 contact tracers for all 50 states. The work involves making phone calls — a fully remote job! — to people diagnosed with COVID-19 to do a symptom check and share instructions for quarantine. View all openings here.
  • There are several ways to optimize money going in and coming out. Below are some ideas for managing your cash flow in difficult times:

    1. Ask all your landlords/lenders to work with you on a delayed/reduced payment schedule.
    2. If you are already paying back your student loans – apply for emergency forbearance (a 60-day grace period).
    3. If eligible, make sure you are taking advantage of other government programs, such as WIC and SNAP food assistance.
    4. If eligible, make sure you are taking advantage of any and all school programs available at your school, including food pantries and emergency financial aid.
    5. If eligible, refinance or restructure any loans, including car loans, student loans, or credit card debt.
  • If you are not going to be able to pay a rent payment, car payment, student loan payment, or other loan this month, communicate and document.

    Communicate by calling your landlord/lender ASAP to let them know before you miss a payment.

    • When you call your landlord/lender, share that your work has been affected by COVID-19, that you or your family won’t be able to pay in full, and ask what programs or options might be available to you.
    • Some landlords have been given reprieve from their own lenders and may not have to make payments on their properties. They may be able to extend those same benefits to you and your family, but they won’t extend it unless you ask. They are waiting on you to make the first move.

    Document whatever plan or arrangements you and the lender/landlord make over the phone and send that documentation as a follow-up email to the lender/landlord to create a paper trail.

    • Did you receive an eviction this month, even though there is a moratorium on evictions through May (at least in California)? The letter might have gone out automatically from an automated system, even if you and your landlord have worked out a different arrangement. If you get an eviction notice, first take a deep breath, then call your landlord to confirm that you will not be evicted this month and that this notice was a mistake.
    • If for some reason, your landlord is not following the moratorium, reach out for a trusted ally for help. Balance Financial Fitness is a financial non-profit that offers no-charge tenant rights support.

    Finally, be wary of scams in this space. All kinds of scams surrounding stimulus checks, 401K loans, and more are circulating during COVID-19. Check your sources and never give your personal information to anyone who is not a trusted partner.

  • WHAT: Credit scores represent your ability to borrow money and history of borrowing money. A credit score is a numerical number from 0-850. Each person has an individual credit score, so your parents’ credit score is not your credit score, for example.

    WHY: Credit scores are important because they are used by lenders to calculate whether or not you are eligible for a loan (e.g. car loans, student loans, etc) and at what terms. The better your credit score, the lower the interest you will need to pay on a loan. Credit scores are also used if you want to rent an apartment – for example, a landlord will look at your score to estimate if you will be a reliable tenant. You want to know everything about your credit score, because any mistakes can negatively impact your score for 7-10 years.

    HOW: Credit scores are calculated by an algorithm by an organization called FICO. The algorithm takes into account three things: 1) The amount of credit you have available as compared to the amount you have used (e.g. you have a $1,000 credit limit, but you have only used $100). 2) The types of credit you have – more types is better (e.g. car loan, student loan, and utility bill are all different types of variety). 3) Your history of making your payments on time.

    COVID-19: Some lenders are offering not to penalize you for late payments during times of coronavirus. You will have to call your lenders to find out if they are offering this. If they do offer this and you notice that they have reported your late payments to the credit bureau, you can call your lender to contest that action.

    TAKE ACTION: Two actions you can take today to understand and increase your credit score: 1) Learn the basics of credit (or brush up on the basics if you have learned them before. 2) Get your credit report and understand what is on it. You can find your credit report at The service costs $15 and will ask for a social security number or ITIN.

  • In conversation with Kristi Longoria and Mitch Oster at the San Mateo Credit Union:

    Q: How should we think about managing our money in times of uncertainty?

    A: Track your expenses and income via a budget. Tend to your emotions about money. Gather resources, including a team of people that you can trust to ask questions about money. Keep track of your budget, even if it is always changing, so that you understand where you are at, even if you don’t have enough to pay your bills.

    Q: What is an emergency fund, why does it matter, how much should be in an emergency fund?

    A: Emergency funds are critical in situations like this, but we weren’t prepared to have emergency funds that last indefinitely. The benchmarks (1 month, two months, six months) can be detrimental to our mindsets if we are in an environment where we don’t have access to work and it is really hard to save. That is ok. Reframe and focus on your budget, identify areas in your budget where you can cut back, and identify where it might be possible to save. For some, it may be that we aren’t able to save anything right now and that’s ok. If you are in that situation, focus instead on where to get additional resources to help with food, rent, clothing etc. Reach out to SMCU to help you find resources!

    Q: How should we prioritize our money decisions about rent, food, school, and saving right now?

    A: This is when it is really helpful to talk to someone 1:1 to go through your specific situation and help you decide. Kristi and Mitch are certified financial planners, so they can help you. You can email Kristi at klongoria[at] to set up a 1:1 financial coaching to talk about your financial situation — completely free of charge to Summit alumni.

    You may not feel ready to talk about your specific financial situation – and that’s okay. It’s okay to just send general questions to Kristi and the team and when you are ready, sign up for the 1:1 financial coaching. SMCU can help you with job search and resumes as part of those 1:1 coaching meetings.

    Q: What about job ideas?

    A: You might be able to serve as an online tutor for younger students in elementary school or middle school. Tutoring people in a second language can also be really lucrative! Leveraging your DIY skills to make products/services to sell on the side; if you have sewing machines, make masks to sell. Lots of jobs in education and banking, especially supporting the digital divide, will start popping up as soon as we start to re-open.

    Q: How do we build a budget?

    A: Building a budget is more than saying “I’m on a budget”. It’s doing the work to understand what your bills are and what money is coming in (if any right now). If you are having a stressor (e.g. “the payment for my car is too high”), communicate that to SMCU so they can help you figure out how to restructure your payments.

    Q: What else should we know about managing our money right now?

    A: It’s okay to feel uncertain. It’s okay to acknowledge the stress you are under. If you aren’t feeling ready to have conversations about money, that’s okay. If you are ever feeling a small glimpse that you might be ready to ask a question about your money situation, our friends at the San Mateo Credit Union are ready and willing to help.

Additional Resources

  • Who’s Hiring During COVID: A list of all the companies that are hiring or freezing hiring at this time. If you are looking for a job during the pandemic, this resource is a great place to start.

    Who’s Hiring Right Now: A list of companies hiring right now, across the nation. A mix of essential jobs plus remote jobs.

    Who’s Still Hiring in Tech: Lots of tech jobs here, but you can filter for sales, marketing, operations roles for possible entry-level roles.

    Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Check out the Customer Service section especially for entry-level roles.

    Entry-Level Remote Jobs: A list of companies hiring entry-level remote jobs.

    Remote Internship Opportunities: If you had an internship rescinded due to COVID-19, this could be a great place to search for a new one.

    Free Online Skills Training: The Skills to Succeed Academy walks you through finding a career, brushing up your resume and interviewing skills, and preparing for the job. You can access their online training modules for free using access code 04ZZ04.

    The Ultimate COVID Job Resource Stack: We’re not sure who took the time to put this together, but we’re glad they did! Resources include support/services, job boards, remote work opportunities, housing, and more.

    Is My Internship Canceled? This website, created by three college students, tracks which summer internships, by company, are still happening, which have shifted to remote, and which have been canceled. You can sort by “Hiring” to see what type of companies are still looking for summer interns and draw conclusions about what types of industries might rebound first.

  • Directory of Bay Area Supports: If you are wondering where to go for Bay Area COVID-19 resources, we have compiled a list just for you.

    Directory of Washington Supports: For alumni in Washington state, Washington Charters has compiled an equally comprehensive list for coronavirus supports.

    San Mateo County Relief Fund: San Mateo County has authorized $3 million in direct relief funds to families and individuals in the county. Check their website to see application and eligibility criteria.

    Santa Clara County Relief Fund: Do you need help with rent, food, utility payments and do you live in Santa Clara County? You can place your name on the waiting list to access relief funds.

Financial Coaching

It can be daunting to deal with money matters on your own, so just know that free coaching is available. Our friends Kristi, Michele, and Mitch at the San Mateo Credit Union are offering no-charge 1:1 financial coaching to all Summit alumni. To set up an appointment, write to Kristi Longoria at klongoria[at]

Go to SMCU


Whether you’re a member of the Class of 2020 or our very first graduating class from Summit Prep, our goal is to help you find your Concrete Next Step in your life after high school. Check back in July for a special career mapping tool just for Summit alums!