Learning, Mentoring, Repeat

Meet entrepreneur and Student Leadership Johns Creek grad, Sid Balaga

How did you first hear about SLJC?

I first heard about Student Leadership Johns Creek (SLJC) seven years ago when I was a freshman at Chattahoochee High School. In addition to it being a holy grail of an opportunity to add to my resume for colleges, I knew it was a hyper-competitive, two-year program for the public high school students in Johns Creek to engage in an immersive government and business leadership program. The first time I applied to the program, I was rejected. But after taking up more extracurricular leadership roles and building a stronger relationship with Mrs. Amanda Wile, the SLJC teacher representative at Chattahoochee High School, I applied again my sophomore year and was accepted! Throughout my time at Student Leadership Johns Creek, I’ve built strong relationships with Mrs. Irene Sanders – Executive Director of SLJC, Georgia government officials, and business leaders. In 2018, from my class of SLJC, I was selected by Mrs. Sanders as one of nine to become a Georgia Secretary of State Ambassador, representing Student Leadership Johns Creek. Over 9 months, I led my team of 8 others to promote civic engagement through a paramount State Legislature candidate debate, multiple voter drivers, and many voter participation campaigns. Eventually, we ended up placing first place out of 2,200 teams in the state. Finally, along with my teammates, I received the Georgia Outstanding Citizen Award from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp. 

Tell us about your ed-tech company.

After graduating from Georgia Tech, I decided to start a company by tackling one of the biggest problems that Gen Z is facing: navigating the career journey to land internships or full-time jobs – especially in a very difficult labor market like today. I was able to accrue 300-plus interviews during my four years at Georgia Tech, at the most competitive companies like Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, and the NBA, I learned by failing forward. From resume optimization to how to answer specific questions, I turned some of these interviews into later-stage rounds, and eventually a handful of job offers. 

I found that there was nobody or no class that taught students how to land an internship or job at their dream company. With a huge opportunity gap, I created Careerhaus – an education technology startup aimed at becoming the “Khan Academy of career.” I am creating an exclusive platform for students to get courses on resume and cover letter creation, networking and interview strategy, and digital presence and public speaking. From not knowing where to start to landing multiple job offers, Careerhaus aims to be the go-to platform for students interested in growing professionally. As of right now, I am running the “Careerhaus Fellowship,” a 1-month boot camp to help accelerate students to land a job. We’ve had three cohorts of Careerhaus Fellows starting In October 2023, 20-plus fellows to date with more than 460 applications. However, the company will transition into democratizing this knowledge via an online course that students can sign up to take at their own pace and time.

Tell us about your interaction as a mentor with SLJC students.

I have interviewed, recruited, and mentored numerous SLJC students on how to land an internship or job offer. In addition to this, I help plan and select careers and college majors. Lastly, I help with some college consulting, and helping students craft their college applications. Students reach out to me on a daily basis for various types of academic and professional development help.

The benefit for students is obvious. What’s the benefit for you?

When I first started Careerhaus, I didn’t have the intention to become a mentor. I saw a huge gap in resources helping early-career students navigate and land professional experiences. As I started working with high school and college students, I found that I really enjoyed passing on wisdom and being a beacon of help. I enjoy talking about the wins and struggles that these students face academically and professionally. The biggest benefit for me is simple: it gives me a sense of purpose. I want to be the resource I wish I had when I was their age. If I were to leave this Earth tomorrow, I know that I at least had a positive impact and helped a few kids launch their bright careers. 

Where do you live and where’s the business?

I’m currently living in Johns Creek and the business, Careerhaus, is also in Johns Creek. Almost all of the work is done digitally. 

Students reach out to me daily for various types of academic and professional development help.

Throughout my time at Student Leadership Johns Creek, I’ve built strong relationships with Mrs. Irene Sanders – Executive Director of SLJC, Georgia government officials, and business leaders.

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