Job interviews can be intimidating, especially that very first one! To help students get some idea of what it might be like, local residents from a wide variety of careers volunteered their time to help Walt Whitman High School students get some valuable practice before they start on their career path by helping conduct mock job interviews.
More than 200 business students in grades nine through twelve signed up for the two day program held on January 11th and 12th. Walt Whitman business teachers Jake Heuskin and Thomas Ferrante organized this year’s event. “We think it's important for the students to get some real experience on how a job interview works as well as what companies are looking for,” explained Heuskin. “They need to know what they should be preparing for. We want to open their eyes and make them feel comfortable. Show them it’s not as scary as they may perceive it to be.”
Preparing for the mock interviews began in class. Both Heuskin and Ferrante had their students write cover letters and resumes, as well as learn to do research on companies they might be applying to. For students who usually dress for school in sweatpants, and even pajamas some days, there were suggestions on what to wear to a job interview. “Bring it together for one day,” said Heuskin. “Dress a little more professional for this event. Business casual, button-down shirts, khaki pants, maybe a blazer.” Following his own advice, Heuskin promised to come in wearing a suit for the two days.
More than 25 professionals from a variety of careers donated their time to mentor participants. Students were able to interview with people working in fields they’re interested in pursuing including education, engineering, health, law enforcement, sales, marketing and culinary. Northwell Health X-Ray Technologist Barbara Dugan has been volunteering for this program for the last four years. “I find it rewarding,” said Dugan. “Sometimes if you're not a teacher, they feel more comfortable saying some things to you. So I feel like I've helped even a couple of them with life’s lessons like how to apply for college and what they do after college.”
Senior Nicolas Guillermo wanted to interview with someone who could help him learn more about becoming a teacher. “I want to be a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] teacher. But I don't know if it would be better to go into the STEM field and learn about it first and then make my way into teaching, or if I should go head first into teaching. So that’s what I want to ask about today.”
Students get credit for showing up for their interview but they don’t get graded on their performance. “I don't want them to get any more nervous than they should be,” said Heuskin. “This is not a test. I know how it feels to be a teenager and be in these situations. I told them it's just for practice, for you to get something out of it. If you don't do well on an interview, it's okay.”
It’s okay because Mr. Heuskin and Mr. Ferrante have the rest of this semester to help their students prepare for those potentially life-changing job interviews!
More than 25 professionals from a variety of careers donated their time to mentor participants.
Students had the opportunity to interview with local representatives, including the South Huntington Public Library.
We are grateful to all who participated in this year's Mock Interviews!