Dream Careers: Virus Hunter



Dream Careers is a teen-initiated, teen-led series designed to increase awareness on a variety of careers choices. The program helps teens research career paths while speaking with a chosen guest.

On May 5 we had our kickoff event via Zoom with virologist Ken Stedman. Dr. Stedman studies viruses found in extreme environments, and the teens wanted to hear from him in light of the pandemic. Our next Dream Careers will be with a chef and restaurant owner.

Advanced Planning

The teens began by brainstorming possible presenters and career interests. Once they chose the presenter, I contacted him, scheduled the event and did all of the logistical administrative details. Dr. Stedman had presented for us before as part of NASA @ My Library.

The teens planned the questions they wanted to ask and decided on the structure for the event. For the first Dream Careers, the teens set it up like an informational interview. I shared the teens' questions with the presenter in advance as a courtesy.

We used Zoom for this event. The host and I did a practice session to make sure we understood the technology and the flow. We also talked through the scenarios that might lead us to mute or remove a participant.

I prepared a pre-event survey using Google Forms to better understand the participants, their interests and what led them to this particular speaker.


I used a few different outlets to promote this event. I wanted to make sure teens knew about it, so I sent an email to our school partners. This is a great event for high schoolers currently taking virtual classes.

I emailed our community partners as well as Washington state youth librarians. I also shared the event with NASA @ My Library partners and did Facebook and Instagram posts.


Our only direct cost was the use of a basic Zoom license.

Day-of-event Activity

The presenter, host and I logged into Zoom about 30 minutes before the event started for a tech check. The teen volunteers logged in 15 minutes later.

We started the presentation by doing a quick run-through of the Zoom logistics so participants knew to keep their mics muted when not speaking and other general tips for using the application.

Our teen volunteers took turns asking Dr. Stedman questions, and we had time for other participants to ask questions on camera and in the chatbox. He answered a variety of questions from describing his typical work day, what kind of equipment he uses and what protective gear he wears while in the lab.

Honest advice from the guest is encouraged. 

Program Execution

We used Zoom because we wanted gallery mode. Our goal was to create an event that felt more like a conversation than a presentation.


Having a host to focus on the administrative and technical details made it easier for me to focus on the presenter and volunteers.

If you are new to your technology, a session to practice using all the features is worth the time.


Supporting Materials

Slideshow Images