When Westfield High School juniors Neel Kulkarni and Nikhil Naglapur looked around at their classmates last year, they saw students that were extremely stressed out, focusing on the day to day of academic life. “In our school students were stressing out over the nitty gritty details, having the best grades, “” They knew that the culmination of all of these efforts would hopefully be an interesting career, but they realized that the students around them didn’t know a lot about different careers. 

“We started Excel Podcasts to help the students in the area learn about different stories, lessons, and tips for succeeding in a career,” Kulkarni said of the inspiration behind the podcast.

“Every week, we bring on a different professional to provide career advice and guidance. We used LinkedIn to contact local professionals and write scripts ahead of time,” said Naglapur. 

The two students had been a part of a variety of different extracurricular activities, like debate team and different honors societies, but they knew that they wanted to engage with their community in a new way and learn something in the process. 

“We had the idea to do a podcast. We thought that a podcast would be a way to distribute information to people easily and virtually. We wanted to make it convenient for people to listen to. We decided to do it on career advice because learning about different careers is something I’m so passionate about. It’s one of the most important things, students should do more of it. On our podcast, advice and tips come up for networking, but we also talk about current events stuff from the perspective of different professionals. We had an interviewer with the VP of an investment group, and he taught us a lot about current events.” 

They started to formulate the idea in February, and the first episode came out in July. Their first episode was with Sameer Parulkar, a Product Marketing Director at Red Hat. Since then, they’ve done ten episodes, with professionals in fields ranging from physical therapy to non-profit organizations to business. 

“We would like to give back to Fairfax County Public Schools and get this podcast and the work that we’re doing to each corner of the county. We would love to work with FCPS career specialists to embed career-based learning into our curriculum.” 

“I like to learn from the career professionals, some of which I wasn’t interested in before.”

The podcast can be accessed on the Excel Podcast website, or on a variety of different platforms. Links to every episode can be found here: https://linktr.ee/excelpodcasts

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