Building a Better Bay Area: Keeping local grads here by helping them find $100K jobs

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- We keep hearing how many high school graduates can't make a go of it and live in the Bay Area with minimum wage jobs, so they end up moving away.

Two career counselors in the San Mateo area are trying to change that, hoping their initiative called "Stay in the Bay 100K" will help to Build a Better Bay Area.

Rosie Mau, a senior at San Mateo High School, was resigned she'd have to move away when she graduates from high school next spring, leaving family and close friends behind and starting a new life alone in a new city.

"Considering how high rent is in the Bay Area, it's crazy and it's hard to find jobs that pay $100K," she explained.

Then she attended a career event called "Stay in the Bay 100K" which changed her mind.

About 50 representatives from various trades, unions, public safety agencies, transit systems, and companies opened her eyes that there are unfilled jobs available that pay $100,000 or more.

Career advisers Helen O'Brien from San Mateo's Aragon High School and Nancy Kane from San Mateo High School came up with the concept, planned the evening event, and shared success stories with 500 parents and students who attended. One such story involved a 2016 graduate of San Mateo High.

"He started working with Caltrain and moved his way up and now he's an engineer, and he's making over $100k," said Helen O'Brien.

The shortage of construction workers in the Bay Area, for example, draws in people from the Central Valley. Yet some job seekers get discouraged.

"My daughter moved to Dallas a couple years ago," said Nancy Kane, "because it was hard for her to find a job in her field around here and be able to pay her rent, pay her bills, her car payment, everything."

But by sharing career opportunities right here, the migration to find work elsewhere might be stemmed and let people stay in the Bay.

When work began on "Stay in the Bay 100K," there was concern there might not be too much of a turnout, but because of the huge success of the program, they hope to make it an annual event. And they hope the long-term impact will be many families staying together here in the Bay.
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