Career Launch

 OUR STORY

Although Career Launch was founded in 2018, the substance and origins of our programs were founded during Sean O'Keefe’s undergraduate years. Sean is the first person on his mom’s side of the family to get a certificate or college degree, and his dad was the first person in his family to go to a four-year college after transferring from a community college. Sean attended Diablo Valley Community College and he transferred to University of California, Santa Barbara. With the advice of a professor, he began using the “Student Card” to proactively build social capital from scratch. These efforts enabled him to tap into the hidden job and internship market and earn three highly competitive internships and then a job upon graduation — despite not having pre-existing connections in his desired industry or having the best grades. 

Feeling fortunate and grateful, at the age of 29, Sean began paying it forward by teaching as an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University in 2010.  Due to his methods helping students land the internships and jobs they wanted in the hidden job market, in 2016, Sean was asked to design and teach a class for students in the university’s first-generation student program. The results were remarkable and Dr. Erin Kimura-Walsh, Director of the First-Generation Student Program, urged Sean to create Career Launch.
"We are extremely excited to partner with Career Launch. Their mission toward equitable student success dovetails with our efforts to equip career services leaders and senior administrators to scale career development equitably across campus. 

The Career Launch programs amplify and scale the efforts of career centers.  Their services help students in all four significant high impact career mobility practices from our National Alumni Career Mobility survey---with special attention to thoughtful strategies that help students create professional relationships with the employers they want to meet.”  

Jeremy Podany, CEO 
The Career Leadership Collective
Sean O'Keefe pictured with Rose Nakamoto
In 2018, the Career Launch social enterprise was born. Marieli Rubio is one the thousands of students to  implement the Career Launch Method. As a sophomore Civil Engineering first-generation student, she followed the method, built professional relationships from scratch, and earned a paid civil engineering internship after her sophomore year. The internship was never posted online; she access it by proactively tapping into the hidden job and internship market. The internship was a great experience that boosted Marieli's self-confidence and propelled her to receive multiple internship offers and then multiple job offers prior to graduation. Two of the offers were from Career Launch: first an internship and then a full-time position to become Partner and Director of Impact.

During spring and fall of 2019, Sean and Marieli were invited to speak at conferences and provide keynotes to share about their methods, frameworks, programs, partnerships and success stories. Then, in summer 2019, they received encouragement and funding from Santa Clara University to scale their impact.  In late 2020, The Career Leadership Collective teamed up with Career Launch to help more colleges amplify their efforts and engage more students.

Career Launch is proud to have partnerships with 2-year and 4-year colleges, public and private universities, non-profit organizations, high school districts, and government agencies. 
Founder Sean O'Keefe

About Sean O'Keefe

About Sean O'Keefe

Sean O'Keefe is the Founder, Partner and Chief Impact Officer for Career Launch and the Co-Founder and Director of Impact for Empowered Students. The two organizations operate as a mission-driven social enterprise.  Sean is also an award winning Professor of Business Communication at Santa Clara University. In 2020, Sean teamed up with his colleague, Professor Barry Posner, a researcher and best-selling author of The Leadership Challenge and The Student Leadership Challenge, to conduct their first annual nationwide research survey called "Networking & Career Readiness of College Students: A Nationwide Survey." 

NACE and the Career Leadership Collective recognized the research as the first of its kind and NACE asked for the results to be published in their quarterly journal.  Due to Sean's impact on students, Career Launch's partnerships nationwide, and the research, he received several offers to publish his first book, which came out in 2021. 

Sean is an innovative and service-oriented leader and teacher.  He has unique expertise on the confluence of career education, student employment outcomes, how to teach cold & warm networking, frictionless online learning, career development partnership programs, micro-learning, scaffolded teaching, career readiness competencies, and how to embed career education into course curricula and co-curricular programming.

Sean regularly speaks, trains, writes and consults for colleges, universities, and career education nonprofits and government agencies. His specialty involves teaching students how to build professional relationships from scratch, as well as providing advanced training to faculty and career counselors how to effectively teach networking to their students. Sean’s reputation as a speaker is built on his openness to be vulnerable and communicate authentically. He loves to share both researched-back data and evidence-based success stories of his former students. He is a thought-leader with the uncommon ability to both inspire organizations and audiences and provide them with practical takeaway strategies. 

Sean has a BA in Communication from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a MBA from Santa Clara University.  Sean enjoyed 14 years in business prior to his switch into higher education.  He served in leadership roles for nine years and has hired over 40 employees/interns and interviewed over 300 candidates. His first job out of college was in the business development department for the Oakland A's baseball team. Then, he spent seven years as Vice President for Shamrock Office Solutions. During college, Sean earned internships with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's, and San Francisco Giants — without having any connections or the best grades. Sean lives in Northern California with his wife, whom he met in the third grade, and their two children. 
Director of Impact Marieli Rubio

About Marieli Rubio

About Marieli Rubio

Marieli Rubio is a Partner and Director of Impact for Career Launch. As a first-generation college student at Santa Clara University she was taught the Career Launch Method directly from Sean when she was a sophomore. Marieli immediately began to create a professional network from scratch. In doing so, she earned a competitive internship within a civil engineering division of a prominent construction company between her sophomore and junior year. Marieli reflects, “It was a life-changing experience, it opened my eyes to the realities of what I was learning in the classroom and it increased my self-confidence for my career going forward.”

In early 2019, Sean asked Marieli to co-present at the California Work Experience and Internships Association’s annual conference. It was a huge success. As a result of their talk, they were asked to give a keynote at a conference for California Community Colleges in June 2019. That led to many other opportunities for Marieli, including a Partnerships Coordinator position with Career Launch during Summer 2020. To no one’s surprise, she excelled in the partnerships role. The first partnership she coordinated was with UC San Diego.

Marieli is passionate about empowering students to start their career search early and overcome the barrier of not having professional relationships. She loves helping other colleges, universities, and career programs scale their impact in these areas.

In fall 2020, Marieli co-founded the “Virtual STEM for Latina Girls” Initiative at Third Street Community Center in San Jose to provide mentorship and workshops. She continues to be an advocate for minorities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields.  

Marieli earned a Civil Engineering degree from Santa Clara University. Outside of her social impact efforts, Marieli enjoys playing basketball, hiking, and traveling.  
Faculty Director Stephen Torres

About La'Tonya Rease-Miles

About La'Tonya Rease-Miles

La'Tonya "LT" Rease Miles, Ph.D., is Partnerships Ambassador and Career Launch Certified, as well as the Dean of Student Affairs at Menlo College, four-year private liberal arts institution in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her portfolio includes: Housing and Residential Life, Student Activities (including student government, leadership, and clubs, and major campus events such as student orientation), Judicial Affairs, Mental Health Services, and First-Year Experience.
A first-generation college graduate, Dr. Miles has established two successful programs for first-generation college students—one at UCLA and the other at Loyola Marymount University—both recognized as First-gen Forward institutions. She regularly consults with institutions nationally concerning first-gen students and also has advised local high schools about developing programs on their campus. Finally, she established and manages a national Facebook group, "Empowering First Generation Students" and is the Chief Strategist for the "First Gen & Juice" brand.

Prior to this position, LT was the Director of the Academic Resource Center at Loyola Marymount University where she also spearheaded campus-wide initiatives that address student food insecurity and worked closely with the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education to establish travel abroad pathways for students of color and first-generation college students.

She earned a Ph.D. in American literature from UCLA; and her research interests include the hidden curriculum in higher education, narratives about the first-generation college experience, and the relationship of physical space and college student engagement. Further, LT is passionate about NBA basketball, college football, "The Flash" and “Friday Night Lights.".
Faculty Director Stephen Torres

About Stephen Torres

About Stephen Torres

Stephen Torres is the Career Launch Director of Special Projects and is Career Launch Certified. He assists with content deployment, academic engagement, and the student experience. He's also an Industry Fellow and Faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, where he primarily teaches Entrepreneurship courses.  

Stephen brings a background in both private sector and education to the Career Launch team. He's worked in consumer products, technology, renewable energy, startup ventures, and academia. Throughout all of his experience he's been first and foremost a teacher, and he loves to help students of all ages on fulfilling learning journeys. 

Stephen earned his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, received his MBA from Cornell, and he is currently in Stanford's highly selective Masters of Science program for Learning, Design, and Technology.

We Are a Double Bottom Line Social Enterprise

Launch Your Career

We were founded with encouragement—and with financial support—from Santa Clara University to scale impact nationwide.

Our mission is to partner with colleges and career programs to scale the skillset of launching a job or internship search, especially for students who have little to no connections.

Empowered Students

Empowered Students is our 501(c)3 charitable sister/counterpart organization. Empowered Students provide first-generation college students the tools, strategies, resources, skills, and mindset needed to level the playing field and land life-altering internships / jobs upon graduation.

We Are a Double Bottom Line Social Enterprise

Career Launch
Empowered Students

We were founded with encouragement—and with financial support—from Santa Clara University to scale impact nationwide. 

Our mission is to partner with colleges and career programs to scale the skillset of launching a holistic job or internship search, especially for students who have few to no connections.



Empowered Students is our 501(c)3 charitable counterpart organization. Empowered Students partners with foundations and philanthropic organizations to provide first-generation college students the tools, strategies, resources, skills, and mindset needed to level the playing field and land life-altering internships and jobs.

Speaking, Training, and Advisory Specialties

Increasing and Creating Social Capital to Access the Hidden Job Market

How to Create Professional Relationships and Land the Internships and Jobs You Want

How to Perfect the​ Career Conversation
Effective Professional Communication and How to Play the Student Card

How to Drive Improved Retention Rates & Employment Outcomes

How to Teach Proactive Relationship Building to Students so they Can Access the 80% of Jobs in the Hidden Job Market

and more.

Increasing and creating Social Capital to Access the Hidden Job and Internship Market

How to Create Professional Relationships and Land the Internships and Jobs You Want

How to Perfect the Career Conversation

Effective Professional Communication and How to Play the Student Card

Group Coaching Best Practices

How to Teach Cold Networking to Students so they Can Access the 80% of Jobs in the Hidden Job and Internship Market

How to Engage Students Who Historically Don't Engage with Career Services

and more.

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