“You can’t be what you can’t see,” says Michael Strautmanis, executive VP of external affairs, Obama Foundation.

He says he only learned in high school that the law could be a career pathway for him.

WorkingNation sat down with Strautmanis at SXSW EDU 2023 in Austin.

The Foundation’s Futures Series introduces high school students to different career pathways through conversations with leaders.

“We’ve had them meet a local chef, a local artist, a musician, a guy named John Rogers who is a successful investor and is in finance. All of these opportunities are for these high school students to just see and be exposed to these different career paths,” says Strautmanis.

“This is sort of the magic of relationships and the human experience. You never know what’s going to light that spark, right?”

Having the opportunity to build social capital is also important for young people, notes Strautmanis. “If they can have someone say, ‘Hey, you know what? I have a great idea for you. There’s this young person. They don’t come out of your world. But I’ve seen them. I’ve seen them operate. I see what they can do. I think they fit in. I think they’d be successful.’”

Learn more about the Obama Foundation.