November 19, 2018 10:09:43 AM
Mary Pollitz - [email protected]
When Thomas Harper, 16, prepared for school Thursday morning, he dressed in a blue blazer ready for his first interview.
The Caledonia High School junior, along with more than 250 Lowndes County School District students, practiced interviewing skills Thursday morning. Nearly 30 local business men and women volunteered to boost students' real-life skills at the LCSD Career and Technical Center.
"It's a little nerve-wracking, but I'm sure everyone is when they interview," Harper said. "Sometimes you know an answer and then they ask it, and it just goes out your head."
Harper was interviewed by a representative from the Mississippi University for Women. Though initially nervous, he said he calmed down and practiced for the "real deal."
"I told her that I like working with others, and in certain situations I'm good at working under pressure," Harper said. "And then my weakness is my anxiety might kick in, but I can still act."
Christee Holbrook, president of Graham Roofing, was one of the volunteers who interviewed students from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
On Wednesday, students learned the interviewing strategies during a soft skills university program. Holbrook said she was impressed with the students who picked up those tips from the day before.
"Mainly the firm handshake and eye contact and being prepared and you could really just tell they picked up on it," Holbrook said. "They did excellent on that. A lot of them, this is their first time being interviewed, so you could tell they were nervous. They need more practice but that's what we're here for."
Holbrook said she noticed the key area students needed to work on was communication.
"Technology today, the communication skills aren't what they used to be," Holbrook said. "But the teachers have been working with the students to build their resume and interviewing techniques, and you could tell. They really worked on a lot of things."
Sunny Brownlee, CTC student services coordinator, helped orchestrate the mock interviews. She picked employers specifically to match the disciplines offered at CTC. Students can take classes in health sciences, automotive, teacher academy, welding, industrial maintenance carpentry, culinary arts and engineering and robotics.
Aspiring kindergarten teacher Autumn Bingham, 16, has been studying in the teacher academy at CTC. During her interview Thursday afternoon, she was caught off-guard by interview questions, but she soon found her comfort zone.
"They asked for real-life experience and I didn't know they would do that," Bingham said. "But I realized if you talk about real-life experiences, it's actually a lot easier. I talked about my internship at teacher academy and how I have a big family so I was even able to help teach them."
Brownlee said the first mock interviews proved successful. While walking through and observing students, she said she could see how necessary it is for students to learn these skills.
Not only were students interviewed for mock-jobs, the interviewers filled out rubrics for each student. The students will receive their rubrics back with comments and grades on their resumes, appearance, skill presentations and delivery and language.
"All of the interviews have the opportunity to critique them," Brownlee said. "We'll get the feedback and see what we really need to work on. (The students) did a super job and have really represented us well. This is our future for our community. Honestly, it just wouldn't be possible without the community support."