“Who Dun It?” Students Investigate Professions at High School Career Forum

Recently, Mount Madonna School (MMS) high school students gathered for a CSI- (crime scene investigation) themed Career Forum in which they “interrogated” their “suspects” to find out what careers they held, giving a fun interactive twist to an MMS tradition. 

Nine adult panelists with diverse representations of careers attended the event, but their careers were not revealed to students. Students were tasked with approaching the panelists with questions to investigate for themselves. 

Students grouped around the guest panelists and took notes as they spoke. The student “detectives” asked questions such as  “do you work in an office?” and “what are your hours?” and “do you travel for work?” As the “interrogations” continued, the questions grew more specific and pointed. Students could be heard asking questions like “Does artificial intelligence (A.I.) threaten your job?” and “Would you consider yourself a creative person?” and “What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?” and “Have you ever designed a product or software?” and “How would you recommend a student like me get into your field of work?”

The adult participants joyfully engaged with students and kept them challenged. If any question was too obvious or would directly reveal their identity, the suspect would “plead the fifth.” 

The event participants were Michelle Sunga, senior software engineer; Marty Cheek, publisher/reporter at Life Media Group; Sanjeev Radhakrishnan, software engineering director; Jeremiah Wuenschel, platform security director; MMS alumnus and board member Daniel Nanas (‘07), Google program manager; Tyler Graham, chef at Craftroots, an upscale vegan restaurant; Adrienne Smith, program manager for Lululemon guest support; and Pere Monclus, chief technology officer at VMware.

“I was really impressed with the students and their insightful questions and curiosity,” said guest Marty Cheek. “It was wonderful to get to know them and tell them a little bit about what it means to be a journalist.”

“I think this was a creative way to get a lot of details on each of the jobs because you ask so many questions that you get a more in-depth background on what their day-to-day life looks like,” said senior Isaiah Orozco. “I think that it was a good way for us to look at jobs we don’t think about when we are looking at colleges – this helped me think about what I might do to get to that higher-up place.”

“I was surprised at how many tech jobs there were, and how different each tech job really was from the others,” commented Junior Amelie Zands. “I found talking to Marty, the publisher, most interesting. I could tell he was a reporter by the way he engaged.”

“I liked Michelle [Sunga, senior software engineer] because I could tell she really loved her job by how she answered our questions,” said junior Chloe Smith. 

“The CSI investigation format turned the traditional career forum to something highly engaging and hands-on,” said Ann Goewert, head of school. “Mount Madonna School is grateful for the volunteers who came to inspire our students, and to the parents who coordinated the event.”

After the suspects revealed their careers, students and guests enjoyed a delicious lunch together. 


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications, 

Nestled among the redwoods on 380 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The program, accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.